Ronald Acuna Jr. has said he’ll play in the LVBP through the 2024 Caribbean Series. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna said that he will continue to play in the 2023-24 Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional regular season and will suit up with another Venezuela team for the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami, even if Tiburones de La Guaira is not the organization representing Venezuela.
The comments were made at the Luis Aparicio Award ceremony on Monday, according to the LVBP website. The Luis Aparacio Award is presented annually to the player deemed the best Venezuelan in Major League Baseball. Acuna has won the award three times: in 2018, 2020, and 2023, and named for the former Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles infielder who was the first Venezuelan inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Acuna, the 2023 National League MVP, is playing for Tiburones de La Guaira for the 2023-24 winter league season, his second season in the LVBP. Acuna made his season debut on November 16.
“If we don’t qualify, I have to put myself on the reinforcement list,” he said, according to the LVBP website. “This is ball, what I want is to play. I’m going to go to the Caribbean Series with Venezuela, whoever goes.”
Acuna will play through the round robin stage of the playoffs and after New Year’s Day, even as a reinforcement for another organization, if the Tiburones de La Guaira do not make it to the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami at loanDepot Park from February 1-9.
“I’m the type of player who thinks that the more I play, the more I develop skills. Last year he lent me the League, although it was 10 games, I think that made the difference. This year I am going to play completely with the favor of God,” Acuna stated on the LVBP website.
The Luis Aparicio Award has only had two seasons where two players won the award in the same year with Acuna and Jesus Aguilar sharing it in 2018, and Jose Altuve and Luis Arraez shared the award in 2022.
Miguel Cabrera has won the Luis Aparicio Award five times in his career, the most by any player. Altuve is second with winning four Aparicio awards in his career.
In Acuna’s MVP season, he led the Major Leagues with an average of .337 and a 1.012 OPS, 217 hits, 41 home runs, 106 hits, 149 runs scored, 80 walks and 84 strikeouts in 643 plate appearances.
The winner of the 2023-24 LVBP season will represent Venezuela at the 2024 Caribbean Series. There will be seven participating countries in the 2024 Caribbean Series: the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Nicaragua, and Panama. Nicaragua is participating in the Caribbean Series for the first time.
The last time Miami hosted the Caribbean Series was in 1991 at Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium with Lara de Cardinales as the last organization from Venezuela to participate in the tournament. Leones del Caracas also participated in the 1990 Caribbean Series which was held at the Orange Bowl and is now the current site of loanDepot Park.
The 2024 Caribbean Series will be the first time since the event began in 1949 that it will be at a Major League Baseball stadium.
Luis Aparicio Award Winners
Year – Player
2004 – Johan Santana
2005 – Miguel Cabrera
2006 – Johan Santana
2007 – Magglio Ordóñez
2008 – Francisco Rodríguez
2009 – Félix Hernández
2010 – Carlos González
2011 – Miguel Cabrera
2012 – Miguel Cabrera
2013 – Miguel Cabrera
2014 – José Altuve
2015 – Miguel Cabrera
2016 – José Altuve
2017 – José Altuve
2018 – Ronald Acuña Jr./Jesús Aguilar
2019 – Eugenio Suárez
2020 – Ronald Acuña Jr.
2021 – Salvador Pérez
2022 – Luis Arráez/José Altuve
2023 – Ronald Acuña Jr.