Photo: Getty Images
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
The Criollos de Caguas of Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente defeated the Gigantes de Carolina five games to three in the best-of-nine LBPRC championship series.
On Sunday, Jan. 21, the Criollos won game eight 4-1, securing an opportunity to represent Puerto Rico at the 2024 Caribbean Series at loanDepot Park in Miami. The championship was the organization’s 21st in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente.
Puerto Rico will play in the opening game of the Caribbean Series on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 10:30 a.m. ET against Nicaragua. The game will air on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
Puerto Rico’s 28-man roster will carry 15 pitchers, two catchers, five infielders, and six outfielders. There are multiple notable reinforcements, including infielders Emmanuel Rivera and Gabriel Arias. Rivera plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks in Major League Baseball and Arias, the Cleveland Guardians.
Rivera, 27, played for the Indios de Mayaguez during the LBPRC regular season and hit .259 with a .704 OPS. He’s a smooth-handed defensive third baseman and should start most games for Puerto Rico. Arias struggled offensively with the Cangrejeros de Santurce in 2023-24, posting a lowly .543 OPS in 118 plate appearances, but slugged 10 home runs as a bench player with the Guardians during the 2023 MLB season.
Pitchers like starter Daryl Thompson and reliever Danny Wirchansky could see plenty of time on the mound for Puerto Rico. Thompson, 38, made eight starts in 10 appearances for the Indios de Mayaguez and posted a 2.09 ERA. Wirchansky struck out 24 in 19 innings and allowed just three earned runs with the Indios de Mayaguez.
Puerto Rico’s manager will be Yadier Molina, who won an LBPRC championship in his first season as skipper of the Criollos de Caguas. The Caribbean Series will be the second time Molina dons the Puerto Rico threads as a manager after taking Puerto Rico to the quarter-finals at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Molina played in two Caribbean Series in 2007 and 2021, but 2024 will be the first time he will represent Puerto Rico as manager in the tournament.
The Criollos de Caguas won their last Caribbean Series championship in 2018, defeating the Aguilas Cibaeñas from Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana 9-4 in the title game. They went 2-2 in the preliminary round but knocked off the Caribes de Anzoátegui of Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional 6-5 in the semi-finals.
The Criollos de Caguas are the last team to win back-to-back Caribbean Series titles after winning the event in 2017 and 2018.
Puerto Rico 2024 Caribbean Series Schedule
All Games At loanDepot Park, Miami.
All times Eastern Standard Time.
Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024
10:30 a.m. – Nicaragua vs. Panama
Friday, Feb. 2, 2024
8:30 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs. Mexico
Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024
8:30 p.m. – Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico
Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024
3:30 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs. Venezuela
Monday, Feb. 5, 2024
8:30 p.m. – Puerto Rico vs. Panama
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024
10:30 a.m. – Curacao vs. Puerto Rico
Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024
3 p.m. – Semifinal No. 1
8 p.m. – Semifinal No. 2
Friday, Feb. 9, 2024
3 p.m. – Third-place Game
8 p.m. – Championship Game
Puerto Rico (Criollos de Caguas) 2024 Caribbean Series Roster
Dwight Smith Jr.