Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mark Wagner Injury, Manuel Mayorson 4-5; Jacob Cruz and Wilson Betemitt debut

10/30/09 Game
The Gigantes lost another road game, and fell to 0-7 on the road.

Mark Wagner got hurt on a play at the plate, and left the game. He was 1-1 at the plate and is near the top of the league with a .346 average, along with 6 walks and 2 HRs.

Manuel Mayorson went 4-5 in the win for Toros de La Romana. He is batting .395 and has been starting daily for the Toros at SS and 3B. He is in the Marlins organization and saw action in 97 games with the New Orleans Zephers of the Pacific Coast League.

10/31/09 Game
The Gigantes won a thrilling game at home, coming back with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win 4-3.

Jacob Cruz debuted for the Gigantes. Another imported American, he is a very interesting player. He played parts of 9 seasons in the big leagues, and has played in Korea and Mexico. He had huge numbers last summer in the AAA Mexican League (which has unaffiliated players). He went 2-4 in this game and seemed to be a crowd favorite.

The Gigantes also traded for Wilson Betemit (earlier in the week) and he debuted last night. He had a pinch hit RBI that helped the Gigantes come back in the 9th. He has spent time in the big leagues the last 8 seasons, and played 20 games with the White Sox last year.
Wilson Betemit with the White Sox in 2009, by shgmom56 on Flickr

Friday, October 30, 2009

Giants Dominican Prospect Angel Villalona Charged with Murder in Dominican Republic

19 year old prospect Angel Villalona has been charged with murder in his home town of La Romana, Dominican Republic. He was listed as a top 50 prospect by and #44 overall prospect by  He spent last year with the Giants AA team, the San Jose Giants in the California League.

He is being held for two months awaiting trial. This is a really sad story that has been tearing me up. Kid had his whole life ahead of him. Here is the AP story posted at And here is the Giants official statement, though it really amounts to blah blah blah at this point.

He signed a contract, with $2.1 million signing bonus back in August 2006, when he was 16. This is the youngest age at which international prospects can sign. He is one of many "bonus babies" to come out of the Dominican Republic. The Giants and their fans had high hopes for him at his signing, and he has progressed nicely through the minor leagues. He was seen as a highly ranked prospect last year as well at single A Augusta Green Jackets of the South Atlantic League.

I first heard about this story through Patrick Clark, at beyond the boxscore. Andrew Baggerly has reactions from teammates at a article. Garrett Broshuis was also a minor league teammate of Villalona and posted some thoughts on his blog, which I follow. Here is the post.

The AP article will give you the basics, but the Dominican dailies have published a few additional articles. Villalona has only been quoted as saying he is "innocent," in this article published by the Listin Diario. There is a string of articles published at This one has a picture of the nightclub, where the murder took place (ALLEGEDLY), and the prosecutor says that they have sufficient evidence against him and that their will not be any corruption. In another article, Villalona´s lawyer says that all the evidence they have gathered points to the innocence of his client, and that the media has sensationalized the event and they are to blame. Sound like a typical trial of any kind when good lawyers are involved?

Lastly, there are two articles published at, the only English language newspaper in the country. The first one says that he has been charged. The second one says that he will be in jail 2 months awaiting trial, could face up to 20 years, AND (get this) that the scuffle may have begun over a seat.

There are a number of things that could have prevented this. The Dominican Baseball Guy mentions in an earlier post that violence and handguns are not uncommon in this country. This may be an explanation for a middling prospect or your average Dominican. But for a prospect such as this, he could have bought the bar, much less the seat. He could have easily rented out the bar for the night. He could have asked the owner of the bar to give him the seat, and the Dominican Baseball Guy is pretty sure the owner would oblige someone as famous in La Romana as Villalona. Where is his support system? Why did he not recieve more education and/or get steered away from dangerous situations such as this? This is all needless to say after the fact, and this issue has been breached numerous times with young athletes in all sports. The Dominican Baseball Guy will not attempt to offer a solution in a simple blog post.

Notice the Dominican Baseball Guy says alleged murder above. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the Dominican Baseball Guy. The legal process will run it's course and will determine whether Angel Villalona will continue playing a kids game, or be locked up with hardened criminals.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pedro Martinez to Start in World Series Tonight

As the dominican baseball guy said yesterday, any time a Dominican does anything in the Big Leagues it is big news down here. So Pedro getting the start tonight is big news. Last night, as I watched game one, a few people arrived to the bar late and asked me if Pedro was pitching.

Today, as I was sitting in a library, some people discussed the game. Yes people were chatting loudly about baseball in the library. One of the "librarians" (I use this term loosely) said, "I just want the team that has the most Dominicans." The dominican baseball guy has heard this sentiment expressed by nearly everyone. So, most people are rooting for Pedro to have a good game tonight.

Also, most Dominicans dislike the Yankees, for many of the same reasons Americans (not from New York) dislike the Yankees. The funny thing is both the Phillies and the Yankees both have 3 Dominicans. But Pedro is the most visible of these players.The dominican baseball guy is a big fan of Pedro too. His ability to improvise, on the mound and in interviews, is what makes him (and a lot of Dominicans) great ball players. I have been a fan since he was with the expos, and pitched a perfect game into the 8th and hit a batter who then charged the mound. Still strange to me (why the batter thought he was trying to hit him, with perfect game on line). Anyway, the Dominican Baseball guy has always been a big fan.
Pedro Martinez pitches for the Mets, by Bryce Edwards on Flickr

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Juan Francisco plays well, Jhon Floerntino and Eugenio Velez debut

10/28/09 Game
The Gigantes lost again tonight 12-3 to Estrellas from San Pedro de Macoris.

Juan Francisco had 2 RBI as the DH. The dominican baseball guy is going to go ahead and tap him as the preseason MVP of the Gigantes. We'll see if this holds up.  Jhon Florentino got his first playing time of the year starting at 2nd base. He was with the Corpus Christi Hooks last year (my hometown team), so the dominican baseball guy saw him play a lot. This is the Astros AA affiliate. He can play 2nd or 3rd and had a decent year as a spot starter at both positions last year.

Evan MacLane, another import, got the win for Estrellas and improved to 2-0, with a 2.25 ERA in 3 starts. He is in the Cardinals organization and pitched at AAA last year.  Eugenio Velez debuted last night for the Estrellas, and had a triple, double, and 3 RBI. He was with the Giants AAA team last year and played well as a center fielder.
Eugenio Velez in the infield, by Joel Dinda on Flickr

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tony Pena Jr. Gets win, Fabio Castro Pitches Brilliantly in Loss

10/27/09 Game-
It was a really good game last night in Santiago. The Gigantes lost 4-3 in 10 innings.

Tony Pena Jr. got his first win in Dominican Winter League after pitching a scoreless 10th inning for the home side. He is known as TJ. He is the son of former big league catcher Tony Pena and was in AA and AAA with the Royals affiliates last year.

Dario Veras had a chance to close it in the 9th and add to his career save total (he is close to setting the career saves record, see previous post). He got two outs quickly, then got MattCarson to foul a ball off directly behind home plate. Strangely, Mark Wagner whiffed on the foul ball. The very next pitch Matt Carson hit a home run to tie the game.
Mark Wagner catching in 2008, by Justin D. Henry on Flickr
The Aguilas won the game in the 10th after moving some runners around and getting a ground ball, with which Juan Carlos Perez beat out a throw at the plate.

The Gigantes squandered a brilliant performance by Fabio Castro. He pitched 7 innings of 1 hit ball and did not allow a run. This guy is good. In 3 games he has 3 no decisions, 16 innings pitched, and a 1.69 ERA. He started 25 games for the Blue Jays AAA team last year (Las Vegas 51s), and put up modest numbers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Connor Jackson player of week, Manny Acta signs as Tribe new Manager

The Dominican Winter Baseball League has an off night tonight. But Conor Jackson was named the player of the week for the first week of the season. Check out the Pelotero de la Semana link on the right side of the league website.
Connor Jackson with the Diamondbacks in 2007, by John Kim on Flickr
Any time a Dominican does anything big in the big leagues it is major news in the DR. So, the Manny Acta signing by the Tribe was big news. The Listin Diario covered the story as did the Diario Libre here. It has also been covered continually on television. As an Astros fan I am kind of disappointed he did not go to the Stros. Here is the article. Check out his bio with the link to his name, he is a pretty interesting guy. Very smart in my opinion. Another baseball guy from San Pedro de Macoris. He has a ton a managerial experience and even managed the DR team during the first World Baseball Classic.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Juan Francisco Breaks out, David Herndon Gets Win

10/25/09 Game-
The Gigantes had lots of offense tonight winning 13-5.

Juan Fransisco had a breakout night, going 2-4 with a homerun, a walk, and 4 RBI. Fransisco is in the Reds minor league system and spent time with their AA and AAA affiliates last year, playing well at both levels. He also had a short stint with the Reds and performed well in 21 at bats. Last year he had a huge year with the Gigantes (.360, 11 HR, 34 RBI) (remember the season is around 50 games plus the playoffs). 

Fransisco is the fourth member of the AAA Louisville Bats that I have seen pop up in the Dominican Winter League this year. The others are Ben Jukich, Craig Tatum, and Kevin Barker. I have yet to mention Barker, but he is near the lead in average, and had a big year with the Bats last year, leading them in average (.285) and home runs (22). The Bats manager, Rick Sweet, is also down here managing the Aguilas. I saw an interview the other night and Rick Sweet mentioned that he played in the Dominican Winter League 32 years ago. Sweet must have had some influence in bringing these three imports to the Aguilas.

David Herndon got the win for the Gigantes, after 1.1 innings, and no runs allowed in a relief appearance. He improved to 2-0 on the season.
Craig Tatum, by Chris J. Nelson

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Luis Durango 4-5, Tobi Stoner Gets Win

10/24/09 Game-
The Gigantes lost 6-2 to Escogido. Luis Durango, a highly touted Panamanian prospect went 4-5, with 2 RBI and a stolen base. He is a burner, as he had 44 stolen bases with the AA San Antonio Missions (Padres) in the Texas League last year. Durango is an import, being from Panama. Mark Hamilton, another import, also had a good game going 3-4.

For Escogido, Tobi Stoner got the win, pitching 6 innings and allowing 1 earned run. He improved to 2-0 on the year, with his second strong start. He is in the Mets organization. Brennan Boesch (1-3, 2 runs) and Conor Jackson (2-4, 3 RBI) again had good nights for Escogido. Jackson is one of a handful of players with extended big league experience in the Dominican Winter League. He seems to be returning to his form of two years ago with the Diamondbacks, after missing last year with illness.
Luis Durango with the Padres high A team in 2007 , by SD Dirk on Flick

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gigantes leave runners on corners in loss, Mark Wagner 2-4

10/23/09 Game-
It was a really good game tonight at the Julian Javier Stadium in San Fransisco de Macoris. The Gigantes lost 3-2, but had runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Zack Segovia struck out the final batter for Escogido to get the save.
Zack Segovia pitches in 2009 for the Syracuse Chiefs, by Dave Pape
Mark Wagner had another good game for Gigantes, going 2-4, after hitting home runs in two strait games. Check the Labels to see all my posts about Wagner (or any players). He is leading the Dominican Winter League in home runs with 2. He is in the Red Sox organization. Luis Villareal pitched 5 innings and allowed 1 run for the Gigantes, but got the loss. He has an ERA of 3.38 after two games, but has two tough losses. Estarlin de los Santos had his hit streak end at 5 games.

As I mentioned a few posts back, Brennan Boesch (Escogido) could be a player to watch going forward. The ball really pops off his bat. He went 2-4 last night, with 1 RBI, 1 run scored, and 1 stolen base. He was with the Tigers AA team last year and had a great year playing right field. Boesch is tied for the league lead in RBI with 6 after 6 games. Again, check the labels to see previous posts on Boesch. Arizona Diamondback fans will be interested to know that Conor Jackson is also playing with Escogido. He did not have any hits last night, but is near the top of the league with a .421 average after 6 games played.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dominican Winter League: Gigantes triumph, Dario Veras gets first save

10/22/09 Game-
won 3-2 tonight. Mark Wagner had a homer for the second strait game. Fabio Castro pitched 6 innings, allowing no runs, but Enerio del Rosario got the victory. Castro was with the Las Vegas 51s in the Pacific Coast League last year. Del Rosario pitched in all three levels of the Reds minor league system. In 44 combined appearances, his ERA was under 2.00. He could be a possible closer going forward for the Reds.

Dario Veras got his first save of the season. He is going for the all time career save record in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (89). He has 65 as of this save, and will need a very good year to get the record this year. He is an interesting story. He is 35, and has spent the last few seasons in the Mexican AAA League. He made 53 appearances with the Padres and Red Sox from 1996-98, but never made it past AAA after this. He has been closing games in the Dominican Winter League for the last few seasons.

Estarlin de los Santos had another hit, extending his hit streak to 5 games to start the season.
Dario Veras warms up for Gigantes, by Dominican Baseball Guy

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball League: Gigantes lose, Mark Wagner Homers, Quisqueya Stadium

10/21/09 Game-
Wednesday night, the Gigantes lost another one, 4-1 to Licey.

This was at the Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo. This is the most revered stadium in the country, home to both Ecogido and Licey. It has an amazing history, and was inaugurated on October 25, 1955. It has hosted nearly all of the major national and international competitions in the Dominican Republic since it was founded.

The Quisqueya, as it is known, is a much more modern operation than the stadiums in Santiago and San Fransisco de Macoris, probably because they are able to draw more fans in the capital. It has Burger King, Pizza Hut, and appears more like a North American stadium. It also seemed to have a larger, more knowledgeable crowd than the other stadiums.
Dominican baseball the top stadium in the country, Estadio Quisqueya
The Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo
As for the game, the Gigantes Mark Wagner hit a solo home run for their only run of the game. Like many catchers, his offensive numbers are not that impressive, but his value is probably in the field. Estarlin de los Santos extended his hit streak to 4 games to start the season, and had some good plays in the field. He is also very fast up the first base line, and almost beat out a grounder last night that had no business being close.

For Licey, Yordanny Ramírez hit a two run home run. Ramirez is in the Astros organization and spent last year in AAA ball.

The Gigantes play tonight against the Toros, in the game that was rescheduled due to the strike in San Fransisco de Macoris. This strike has ended and the city is back to normal, whatever normal means.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball: San Francisco de Macoris still shut down over strike, Lima Time

10/20/09 Games-
The Gigantes travel to Santo Domingo tomorrow to take on Licey. This is a blog about Dominican baseball, but the Dominican Baseball Guy is an anthropologist and cannot help but comment on society and culture. San Fransisco is still shut down, the strike should end tomorrow.

It is a really bad situation, especially at night. Groups of armed men and boys have taken up posts around the city, regulating traffic, and there is not enough police presence to effect these groups. They are basically doing whatever they want, especially at night.

 Luckily, The Dominican Baseball Guy knows the right people (who are also armed) so have not been effected; however, it is still a scary situation going through roadblocks of armed civilians. Everyone must realize, this is the situation Dominican prospects grow up in, and things such as this are not extraordinary.

The Dominican Baseball Guy is safe and in the capital, heading to Gigantes vs. Licey tomorrow.

Last night, Diory Hernández had a homer, double, and single, and Brennan Boesch had a homer and two singles, both for Escogido in a win over the Estrellas. Hernandez was with the Braves AAA team last year and hit .319 in 204 at bats as a short stop. Boesch, an American import for Escogido had 28 homers and 93 RBI for the Tigers AA team last year. He is is huge (6'6'', 210). Look for Boesch to have a big winter league.

In the other game, American catcher Craig Tatum had an RBI in a 4-1 for Aguilas over Licey. Tatum was with the Louisville Bats in the International League last year, and it looks like Manager Rick Sweet brought him, along with pitcher Ben Jukich to play with Aguilas. Jose Lima (yes that Jose Lima) pitched three innings of shutout ball to start the game for Aguilas, but did not get the win. Timoniel (Timo) Pérez had a double for Licey. Yes, that ex-MLB player Timo Perez who played in the Mexican Summer League last year.
Jose Lima with the Dodgers in 2004, by Malingering on Flickr

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball: Gigantes game canceled due to strike, Ecogido has Venezuelan Cheerleaders!

10/19/09 Games-
The Gigantes have an off night tonight, and their game tomorrow has been canceled due to protests in San Fransisco de Macoris over public transportation and electricity services.

The Dominican Baseball Guy does not blame the strikers, the electricity is really sporadic at best in my apartment. Most of the businesses are closed today and people have set up road blocks to stall public transportation. There have been ongoing clashes with police in some parts of the city. The Gigantes will play in the capital tomorrow though, and this game has been rescheduled for Thursday. Unfortunately, this is not all that uncommon in the Dominican Republic.

In other games tonight Yasser Gomez had a double, single, and three runs. He is from Cuba, and as far as I can tell this is his first experience outside Cuba. He could be a player to watch going forward. Also, Robinson Diaz had three sinlges and a run for the Estrellas Orientales from San Pedro de Macoris. Diaz played in 41 games with the Pirates last year and posted a respectable .279 average in 129 at bats as a catcher. Francisco Rosario pitched four shutout innings, but Roberto Giron got the win pitching scoreless innings in the 5th and 6th.

Astros farmhand Jose Capellan got the loss for the Bulls from La Romana.

The other game had Licey vs. Escogido, the two teams in Santo Dominigo. Aparently, the Listin Diario web site thought it was more important to publish an article about the Escogido cheerleaders being from Venezuela (not Dominicans as is the norm), than to publish the results of the game. Anyway, imported player Tobi Stoner took the win for Escogido. He was in the Mets organization last year, and allowed 1 run in 5 innings last night. Another American, Michael McKenry had a two RBI double for Escogido. He was an everyday player last year with Tulsa of the Texas League, an affiliate of the Rockies.
American player Michael McKenry had two RBI for Escogido Monday,
photo by Keith Allison on Flickr

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball League: Gigantes get first win, David Herndon gets win, Mark Hamilton and Erick Almonte Homer

10/18/09 Game-
The Gigantes got their first win in their first home game to the delight of the home crowd. There was lots of offense from both sides.

One of the Gigantes imported players, Angels prospect David Herndon, got the win. He pitched one inning, gave up 3 earned runs, and got the win. Once again proving that wins are an interesting statistic. Mark Hamilton, another import, had a home run and a single. He had really good numbers splitting time between AA and AAA in the Cardinals organization last year. One problem for him, the Cardinals have another pretty good player at first base, Dominican baseball player Albert Pujols

Dominican Erick Almonte showed that he can once again be a leading hitter for the Gigantes, with a home runEstarlin De Los Santos, another Dominican baseball player, has a hit in all three games this season. He is just an exciting player at shortstop and playing well. So now the Twins have him in the minors, Alexi Casilla and Carlos Gomez on the big league club, and they just signed uber-prospect Miguel Angel Sano. Seems the Twins, like a lot of other teams, are finding really good Dominican players.

This season in the Dominican Winter Baseball League is officially dedicated to the Alou brothers (Felipe, Matty, and Jesus) all of whom had successful careers in MLB and played many years in the Dominican Winter Baseball League. Felipe's son, ex-big leaguer Moises Alou is actually the GM for the Leones de Escogido from Santo Domingo.

Moises Alou with the Giants in 2005,
by sgmom56 on Flickr

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball League: Gigantes lose, Fernando Abad and Victor Mercedes shine for Toros

10/17/09 Game-
The Gigantes lost their second in a row to start the season tonight. They were never in this contest and looked sloppy throughout, going down by a score of 8-0. The Toros even had an inside the park home run in the eighth inning, after an error (and lack of effort in my opinion or at least ignorance of the situation by pitcher Rhiner Cruz).

There was not much good to say about the Gigantes performance in this game. Estarlin de los Santos had another good game. It is somewhat strange to see a player with only high-A experience be entrenched as a starter at short stop. However, he has played well and went 1-3 last night, and also hit a hard liner right at the center fielder. He made some good plays in the field again too.

Luis Taveras, the brother of Willy Taveras, saw action as a pinch hitter and got a hit. Erick Almonte, a leading hitter for los Gigantes last year, got on track a little going 1-2, with a walk. He was with the Brewers in AAA last year and had a good year (.291, 2HR, 31RBI) in 105 games. He is big, at 6'2" and 180 pounds, with long ball potential.

Astros minor leaguer Fernando Abad pitched 4 innings of no-hit ball for the Toros. Victor Mercedes went 3-3 and had the inside the park home run.

The Gigantes head back home for their home opener tonight against the Aguilas.
Ericks Almonte bats during warm up of Dominican Winters Baseball League
Erick Almonte warming up for Gigantes, by Dominican Baseball Guy

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball: Aguilas beat Gigantes, Erick Abreu and Ben Jukich pitch well

The Aguilas scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat los Gigantes 5-3. The Aguilas took the lead for good with two runs in the bottom of the 7th. The Gigantes were held to just four hits. The Aguilas took the lead 3-0 in the bottom of the 4th. However, Estarlin de los Santos hit a single that drove in two runs and another run scored in the top of the 5th to tie the game.

Estarlin de los Santos had a good game for the Gigantes. He had the base hit that drove in two runs, and made several good plays at short stop. He showed off a very strong arm on one play and turned a couple double plays. He is in the Twins organization and had a pretty good year last year (.290, 1Hr, 23 RBI), mainly with the high-A Fort Myers Miracle. However, his value is clearly as a defensive player as he hit last in the lineup last night. He is from San Pedro de Macoris on the soutern coast, which is known as "The Cradle of Shortstops," producing Rafael Belliard and a number of other short stops.

Erick Abreu had a good game. He spent most of last year with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks. He had a very good year as a mid-game/set up reliever posting a 2.06 ERA in 27 games and 47 innings. I am from Corpus Christi and got to see him play a few times this summer. Last night he pitched 3 innings of shutout baseball in relief of starter Fabio Castro, a Blue Jays farmhand.

With the Aguilas, Ben Jukich pitched four innings of 2 hit, no run ball, and then was inexplicably taken out between the 4th and 5th ininnings. At first I thought it was a double switch or something, but there was no reason that I could see. He must have been on a pitch count or something.
Dominican Winter Baseball League game recap and picture of Ben Jukich
Ben Jukich in 2006, photo by Joel Dinda on Flickr

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dominican Winter League: Gigantes del Cibao Roster 2009-2010

The Gigantes first game is tomorrow, Friday, October 16 against the Eagles from Santiago. The Gigantes staff includes general manager Candy Maldonado, who had a rather successful MLB career. The manager of the team is Félix Fermin, also a former MLB player. The rest of the coaching staff includes the following: Julio Bruno, Héctor-La Manta- de la Cruz, Julio César Paula, Bonny Castillo, Carlos Martínez, Luis García y Carlos Arroyo.
Dominican Winter League: Gigantes del Cibao Roster 2009-2010 with GM Candy Maldonado
Candy Maldonado at a recent baseball clinic in Argentina
The players include 83 (yes 83) Dominicans. The pitchers are Erick Abreu, Geisón Aguasviva, Henry Arias, Antonio Bastardo, Randor Bierd, Charlis Burdié, Héctor Cárdenas, Fabio Castro, Alex Concepción, Francisco Cruceta, Rhiner Cruz, Jairo Cuevas, Julio de la Cruz, Julio DePaula, Jeurys Familia, Elvis Hernández, Waldis Joaquín, Rafael Lluberes, Aquilino López, Germán Marte, Carlos Martínez, Franklin Núñez, Tony Peña, Joel Peralta, Wily Peralta, Juan Pérez, Rafael Pérez, Elvin Ramírez, Ramón Ramírez, Amauris Rivas, Moisés Robles, Osvaldo Rodríguez, Carlos Rosa, Sandy Rosario, Alfredo Simón, Pedro Strop, Miguel Tapia, Gabriel Tatis, Darío Veras, Pedro Viola, Enerio del Rosario and Rafael Rodríguez.

The catchers are Luis Taveras, Alex Castillo, Mario Mercedes, Alexander Soto, and Mario Mercedes.

The infielders are Erick Almonte, Enmanuel Burriss, Alexi Casilla, Iván Contreras, Estarlin de los Santos, Jonathan Díaz, Pedro Feliz, John Florentino, Juan Francisco, Vladimir Frías, Leury García, Valerio Heredia, Osvaldo Morales, Antonio Pérez, Kendry Morales, Plácido Polanco, Albert Pujols, José Reyes, Ron Rivas, Ramón Santiago, Oscar Tejeda, and Wilson Valdez.

And the outfielders are Francisco Peguero, Moisés Sierra, Nelson Cruz, Vladimir de los Santos, Rafael Fernández, Lucas Montero, and Raúl Reyes.

Each Dominican team is allowed seven imports/non-Dominican players and they are very selective in these. For this year the imports for the Gigantes are six Americans: catcher Mark Wagner, pitchers Sam Narron, David Herndon, Luis Villareal, and first basemen Mark Hamilton and Mark Trumbo. They have one highly heralded Panamanian, outfielder Luis Durango. These imports will change throughout the season and the Gigantes will have seven foreign players at any one time.

Nearly, all of these players (I think all of them actually) are in the MLB minor leagues at some level, and a number of them have seen major league action.

Some of the more prominent stars like Albert Pujols and Nelson Cruz may come for the end of the season and the post season, but they will not be grinding it out through the whole season like all of the prospects. They may not come at all. The Dominican Baseball Guy really doubt Pujols will come at all, and someone like him is mainly on the roster just so the team can say they have a great player like him.

All 88 players obviously will not be traveling with the team. Each team is allowed to dress a normal 25 players.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Historia de los Gigantes del Cibao

This is the official historia de los Gigantes del Cibao, as espoused by the official team website:
At the start of the season of professional baseball in the Dominican Republic in the year 1995, the Dominican League of Professional Baseball informed that next year there was the possibility to create another tax exemption for a baseball franchise to expand the league, which only had five teams at the time: Aguilas Cibaenas, Leones del Escogido, Tigres del Licey, the Bulls of La Romana, and The Eastern Stars of San Pedro de Macoris.

This is when a group of Francomacorisanos, led by former major league player Julian Javier took steps to get the nomination of a franchise for this city. The directors of the Regional Development Council accompanied Julian Javier: Dr. Jose Anibal Garcia, Mr. Abraham Abukarma and Dr. Isocrates Peña. These individuals formed a committee to get the long awaited dream of a team in San Fransisco de Macoris. Lawyer Siquió NG de la Rosa joined this committee as the first president of the club, and later they got the necessary partners to invest in this project, thus far unattainable due to economic and the organizational shortfalls.
To operate this franchise, the company had to create Northeast Baseball Club, which has 34 founding members from different provinces of the region. Among those are: Carlos Eliseo Negrin, Celso Ventura, Miguel Angel Almanzar, Rafael Almanzar, Jose Adolfo Herrera, Bienvenido Herrera Khoury, and other partners nearby cities.
It was the hard and persistent work of this committee, that on April 15, 1996 they were granted permission to operate the team, and immediately began to restore the old Julian Javier stadium, to put it in the best condition to play. The first name was: Giants of the Northeast, on the understanding of regional integration, planted by the managers of those years.
The first three years of operation of the team it was the Dominican Professional Baseball League that guided and advised the team of the steps to be followed for the proper functioning of the youngest team of the institution.
In the year 1999, due to a disastrous season where the team broke the record for least games won (9-51), controlling shareholders decided to sell the team. That's how it passed into the hands of Dr. Julio Hazim, who immediately renamed it Chickens of the Cibao, remaining the same for two years. In the first season under Dr. Hazim the stadium Julian Javier got roofing and bleachers, and drainage was fixed. After two years a new ownership group bought the team, who decided to return to the previous name, no longer the Giants of the Northeast, but Giants of the Cibao.
The name Gigantes del Cibao responds to the policy of the new presidency: to integrate all the Cibao, especially children and youth, so that they may give their support to the team, which is still the youngest in the league.
Yea the Dominican Baseball Guy knows, kind of wordy, probably because it is translated directly from the Spanish. To summarize the historia de los Gigantes del Cibao, this will be the team's fourteenth year of existence, after being founded in 1996. Ownership has changed hands several times. The stadium is named after Julian Javier, a native of the city, who had a distiguished baseball career in the MLB, as well as a long career in the Dominican Winter Baseball League. A number of the founders and committee members throughout the founding process are still with the team in varying capacities. The current president is Laurentino Genao and several of his family members work in various capacities in the front office as well.
Live action from the Julian Javier stadium of the Gigantes del Cibao
Julian Javier Stadium, by Dominican Baseball Guy
Their goal as a team is to represent all of the Cibao. This is the central valley of the Dominican Republic. There is one problem I see with this vision and that is that another team, with a long and distinguished history also resides in the Cibao, that being the Aguilas of Santiago. However, according to Juan Mercado, Communications Director, they have a number of fans from other cities in the Cibao, and a number of younger people pledge their support to los Gigantes over the Aguilas, being that they are a younger team. And that is the historia de los Gigantes del Cibao up to this point.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dominican Winter Baseball League is one of tops in world, Historia de LIDOM

The Dominican Baseball Guy is in the Dominican Republic to follow the 2009-2010 Dominican Winter Baseball League. Covering Dominican baseball is overwhelming.

There are pickup games, youth teams and leagues everywhere, training academies run by Dominicans, the majority of Major League clubs have Dominican baseball academies here, there is the Dominican Summer League (a rookie league run by Major League clubs), there are all the Dominicans in the big leagues, Dominican prospects and minor leaguers, and there is the Dominican Winter Baseball League aka LIDOM.

The Dominican Baseball Guy is the Gigantes del Cibao throughout this season in the Dominican Republic Winter Baseball League. The history of the Dominican Winter Baseball League is a long and storied one.

The LIDOM is one of the better baseball leagues in the world, probably only surpassed by Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan (NPB). The other top winter baseball leagues are the Mexican Pacific League, the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, and the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. The champions of these four leagues face off in the Caribbean World Series each year.

The consensus seems to be that the Dominican League is the best of these four, and only surpassed by MLB and NPB.. The Dominican Baseball Guy bases this assumption on a number of assertions. First, Dominican teams have won eleven of the previous twenty Caribbean Series, and the most overall at seventeen. This is kind of arbitrary given that the Caribbean Series is only six games for each team, but nonetheless, it is a very high number.

Second, each of these four leagues places limits on the number of imported players each team can have, so the teams are made up almost exclusively of players from these countries. A statistical analysis of minor league and major league players and their place of birth could be a major undertaking, but it has been obvious throughout the history of the game, and especially in the last twenty years, that more players have come out of the Dominican Republic than any country besides the USA. This being the case, the Dominican Winter League has a larger pool of players to draw from than the leagues in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

Lastly, The Dominican Baseball Guy argues that the history of the Dominican Winter Baseball League is more prestigious than the other three leagues. This league has been around in some form since the 1920s and in its current form as the LIDOM since 1951. While the other three leagues associated with the Caribbean Series have also been around since the 1940s, the quality and depth of players in the Dominican Winter Baseball League has been far superior. Virtually every Dominican major leaguer played in this league at some point, including Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, even Alex Rodriguez.

There are summer and winter leagues in several other countries, but they are undoubtedly looking up at the leagues mentioned here.

The Gigantes are one team in this very good baseball league, and they are in the city of San Fransisco de Macoris. The other teams are los Leones de Escogido in Santo Domingo, los Tigres del Licey in Santo Domingo, los Aguilas in Santiago, the Bulls of La Romana, and the Eastern Stars of San Pedro de Macoris.

LIDOM, history of the Dominican Winter Baseball League
The LIDOM logo
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