Winter Ball Wrap-Up: Playoff Races Heating Up In Mexico, Venezuela; LIDOM Round Robin Set

José Cardona of the Naranjeros de Hermosillo bats in the third inning against the Charros de Jalisco on December 9, 2023 in Hermosillo, Mexico. Hermosillo and Jalisco are the top two teams in the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico in the second half of the season. (Photo by LuisGutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images)

By Leif Skodnick and Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

The Naranjeros de Hermosillo climbed into a tie atop the Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico standings for the second half of the 2023-24 season with the Charros de Jalisco on Thursday night with a 6-5, 10-inning win against the Tomateros de Culiacan.

Jalisco fell 10-8 to Monterrey, leaving the Charros and Naranjeros with 17-8 records. Isaac Paredes had two hits and two RBI for Hermosillo in the win, including a 10th inning base hit that sent Jasson Atondo home with the go-ahead run.

The Naranjeros finish their series with Jalisco tonight at 8:05 p.m. EST, and have three-game series against third-place Los Mochis (14-11) and ninth-place Culiacan (9-16) to finish out the second half of the LAMP regular season.

Another Country, Another Tie For First – In Venezuela, the Leones del Caracas and Cardenales de Lara are tied atop the Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional standings with 31-21 records, 3.5 games ahead of the third-place Bravos de Margarita (27-24).

With few games remaining in the regular season, the Leones will face the seventh-place Aguilas del Zulia (22-30) twice in a true doubleheader Friday, while the Cardenales face the fifth-place Tigres de Aragua (26-25) for a single game. A win in either game of the doubleheader would clinch a top-two finish for Caracas.

With three games remaining, the Cardenales de Lara cannot finish lower than second place.

After Christmas, the Cardenales and Leones will square off on December 26, while the Bravos will face the fourth-place Tiburones de La Guaira (27-25).

The Leones will finish out the regular season on December 27 against the Tiburones, while the Cardenales face the Aguilas. Margarita closes the regular season on December 28 against Aragua.

The top four teams will make the LVBP playoffs, with the first-place team facing the fourth-place team and the second-place team facing the third-place team in a best-of-seven series in the first round. The winners meet in a best-of-seven championship series, with the winner earning a berth in the Caribbean Series in Miami.

LVBP All-Star Game – Earlier in the week, the Estrellas Occidente won the LVBP All-Star Game 9-2 over the Estrellas Oriente. Hernan Perez went 3-for-3 with a double, and Ildemaro Vargas contributed a two-run homer in the top of the fourth. Angel Reyes hit a solo shot for the Estrellas Occidente in the top of the fifth. Former New York Mets prospect Anthony Vizcaya was credited with the win, getting two outs in the eighth inning.

Round Robin Set In LIDOM – The Toros del Este and Aguilas Cibaeñas will not advance to the LIDOM round robin playoffs.

The Gigantes del Cibao, Estrellas Orientales, Tigres del Licey and Leones del Escogido have all qualified for the round robin stage, which will begin December 26 and will continue through January.

All LIDOM games are streamed on MLB.TV with a paid subscription. The winner of the LIDOM championship series will represent the Dominican Republic in the 2024 Caribbean Series at loanDepot Park in Miami.  

Aguilas Cibaeñas will play Gigantes del Cibao at 6 p.m EST. Tigres del Licey will play Leones del Escogido at 6:15 p.m EST. Estrellas Orientales will play Toros del Este at 6:30 p.m EST.

Candelario Appears For Toros – Reds third baseman Jeimer Candelario made his season debut with Toros del Este on December 18. Candelario has two doubles in two games with Toros del Este this winter. Candelario has played seven winters with Toros del Este in LIDOM. Candelario has two home runs and 30 RBI in 268 at-bats with Toros del Este. 

Candelario signed with the Reds this offseason for three years and $45 million on December 7. Canderlario made his MLB debut in 2016 for the Chicago Cubs. He has 88 home runs, 318 RBI, and an OPS of .739 in the Major Leagues, having appeared with the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, and Washington Nationals.

Mezquita Buzzes On Mound For Aguilas – Aguilas Cibaenas starting pitcher Jhordany Mezquita pitched three scoreless innings with one strikeout in a 4-1 win against Gigantes del Cibao on December 21. Mezquita has pitched 18.2 innings, with 15 strikeouts, and an ERA of 4.34 this winter. This is Mezquita’s first winter pitching in LIDOM. 

Mezquita was drafted in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He reached the Philadelphia Phillies High-A affiliate, the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, this past season. His career Minor League numbers are 260.2 innings with 267 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.97. 

Yona Solid For Cibao – Gigantes del Cibao reliever Michael Yona, who has appeared in the Major Leagues with Oakland and the Chicago White Sox, pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout against Aguilas Cibaenas on December 21. He’s pitched 11 innings, with 10 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.27 this Winter for Gigantes del Cibao. He has pitched seven winters in LIDOM. He started pitching for the Gigantes del Cibao in 2022. His LIDOM career numbers are 122.2 innings, 143 strikeouts, 11 saves, and an ERA of 2.20. 

Reyes The Home Run King – Leones del Escogido outfielder and designated hitter Franmil Reyes went 1-for-3 with an RBI in an 8-4 loss to Tigres del Licey on December 21. Reyes leads LIDOM with nine home runs and 33 RBI this winter. Reyes has a .286 batting average and an OPS of .883 this winter.

Reyes played six MLB seasons with the San Diego Padres, Cleveland Guardians, Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals, and has 108 home runs, 285 RBI, and an OPS of .775 in MLB. He is currently an MLB free agent.

Andujar Adding Punch to Tigres’ Lineup – Tigres del Licey Outfielder Miguel Andujar went 1-for-4, with a triple, and an RBI on December 21 against Leones del Escogido. This is Andujar’s first season playing for Tigres del Licey. He has two home runs, 18 RBI, and an OPS of .727 in 117 at bats this winter. This Andujar’s fifth winter in LIDOM.

​​Andujar has played seven MLB seasons with the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his debut with the Yankees in 2017. In 2018, he was second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. Andujar had 27 home runs, 92 RBI, 47 doubles, and an OPS of .856 in his rookie season.   

Colombia’s League Shortens Playoffs – The Liga Beisbol Profesional Colombiano abruptly changed the format of its playoffs just 10 days before the end of the season.

The league elected to have a championship series between the first- and second-place teams in the regular season, rather than two rounds of playoffs.

The finals will begin on January 2.

The Caimanes de Barranquilla (19-14) are in first place in the four-team league, three games ahead of the Vaqueros de Monteria (17-18). The Leones de Santa Marta and the Tigres de Cartagena are tied for third place at 16-18.

Colombia is not participating in the Caribbean Series this year.

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