Joe Espada, a San Juan, Puerto Rico native, has been named manager of the Houston Astros. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
All six Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente organizations have played less than 10 games in the 2023-24 season. Still, league fans are beginning to understand better which teams are possible contenders and which are pretenders.
World Baseball Network will provide a weekly Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente roundup. Let’s look at the best performances and latest news from the past week in Puerto Rico.
Danny Ortiz, OF – Indios de Mayagüez – There has not been much to cheer about for the 2022-23 champions, as the Indios de Mayaguez are hitting below .200 as a team. Still, seasoned veteran Danny Ortiz is doing his best to keep his team’s head above water.
The 33-year-old led the team with two home runs and a .776 OPS going into their game against RA 12 on Tuesday. Ortiz hit a home run to give Indios de Mayaguez an early lead against Leones de Ponce in a 5-4 win on Saturday, November 11. It was the first win of the season for Indios de Mayaguez, and Ortiz’s solo shot was the difference.
Bryan Escanio, P – Cangrejeros de Santurce – The relief pitcher has carried over his dominance with Santurce since last season. In five innings out of the bullpen, Escanio has allowed no earned runs and just two hits. In his most recent outing on Tuesday against the Gigantes de Carolina, Escanio picked up the win, throwing 2.1 shutout innings while striking out one. Cangrejeros de Santurce defeated the Gigantes de Carolina 4-2.
Escanio played in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization from 2009-11 and had his best statistical season in Liga de Profesional Roberto Clemente during 2022-23, posting a 0.82 ERA and striking out 21 in 22 innings.
Ruben Ramirez, P – RA 12 – Starting pitcher Ruben Ramirez threw a gem of a game for RA 12 in a 1-0 win against Cangrejeros de Santurce this past Saturday. In seven shutout innings, Ramirez allowed just one hit and struck out three. He tossed a no-hitter until the bottom of the sixth inning when Cangrejeros de Santurce outfielder Albert Almora hit a line-drive single to center field.
Ramirez has a 1.50 ERA and a 0.583 WHIP thus far in 12 innings this season.
Off the Field
Joe Espada Hired as Houston Astros Manager – Former 1997-98 LBPRC Rookie of the Year and 2012-13 Atenienses de Manati manager Joe Espada has been appointed as the manager of the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball.
“Finally, justice is done to an excellent professional who has demonstrated his ability to be a successful leader,” Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente President Juan Antonio Flores Galarza said of Espada in a statement on the league’s Instagram page.
Espada was born in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has coached minor and Major League Baseball since 2006. During his playing career in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente, Espada spent time with the Vaqueros de Bayamon, Cangrejeros de Santurce, and Gigantes de Carolina.
85th Anniversary – The Liga de Profesional Roberto Clemente celebrated its 85th anniversary on Monday, November 13. On Nov. 13, 1938, the first three games in league history took place, with the Brujos de Guayama against the Senadores de San Juan, Grises Orientales de Humacao against the Leones de Ponce, and the Indios de Mayagüez against the Criollos de Caguas.
A professor from Mayaguez named Enrique Huyuke has been credited with the original idea for establishing the league. Teofilo Maldonado, President of the Commission on Recreation and Sports, helped put the idea into action alongside Gabriel Castro, who assisted in naming and organizing the league’s first six teams.
Current Standings as of November 15
1. Cangrejeros de Santurce (6-2)
2. Leones de Ponce (6-2)
3. Criollos de Caguas (4-4)
4. Gigantes de Carolina (4-4)
5. RA 12 (2-6)
6. Indios de Mayagüez (2-6)
Game Schedule for the Following Three Days
Thursday, November 16
Noon ET – RA 12 vs. Criollos de Caguas
6:10 p.m. ET – Leones de Ponce vs. Cangrejeros de Santurce
6:10 p.m. ET – Gigantes de Carolina vs. Indios de Mayagüez
Friday, November 17
6:45 p.m. ET – Criollos de Caguas vs. Leones de Ponce
6:45 p.m. ET – Cangrejeros de Santurce vs. Gigantes de Carolina
6:45 p.m. ET – Indios de Mayagüez vs. RA 12
Saturday, November 18
6:45 p.m. ET – Indios de Mayagüez vs. Criollos de Caguas
6:45 p.m. ET – Leones de Ponce vs. Cangrejeros de Santurce
6:45 p.m. ET – RA 12 vs. Gigantes de Carolina