Good morning and a Happy Holidays to all at the CCO!
As the end of the year approaches, so does the end of the regular season in the winter leagues. The Dominican league concluded last Wednesday, with a special playoff on Thursday. Mexico and Venezuela will finish on Friday, while Puerto Rico won’t be over until January 4.
This past week, Bryan LaHair possibly strengthened his grip on the parent club’s first base position, while Austin Bibens-Dirkx remained on his march toward a new contract. Marcos Mateo, Oswaldo Martinez, and Kyle Smit continued to be impressive out of the bullpen, while Arismendy Alcantara and Robinson Lopez saw their first action of the winter.
All this, and more inside this week’s Down on the Farm Report.
Leones de Escogido
Peoria reliever Robinson Lopez made his first appearance for the Lions on Wednesday. Trying to put an injury-plagued 2011 behind him, Lopez earned a victory after throwing a shutout inning as Escogido defeated Oriente 6-2.
Toros del Este
In a one game playoff to determine the final post-season spot, Iowa pitcher Alberto Cabrera threw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. He struck out four and lowered his season ERA to 4.22. However, the Bulls ended up losing the playoff spot 7-3 to Cibao.
Tigres del Licey
Peoria infielder Arismendy Alcantara made the most of his opportunities after sitting most of the winter. In his first action, Alcantara was 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI in Sunday’s 6-0 victory over Cibaenas.
Arismendy Alcantara then got his first start on Monday. He repeated his 2-for-4 performance but in a losing effort, as the Tigers couldn’t catch up to Cibaenas, losing 4-2.
Arismendy Alcantara was regulated to pinch-hitting for the rest of the week, going 0-for-3 with a walk in three plate appearances on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Estrellas de Oriente
Iowa reliever Marcos Mateo continued to be impressive bouncing back from last season’s injuries. On Sunday, Mateo went one scoreless inning and struck out two in the Stars 5-2 to loss Cibao.
Mexican Pacific League
Yaquis de Obregon
Marco Carrillo hit a bump in the road in his quest to earn an invite to the big league camp this spring, allowing five earned runs in 4.1 innings on Wednesday. Carrillo struck out four as the Yaquis went down to Guasave 9-4.
Tennessee reliever Oswaldo Martinez had a rough first outing this week, failing to record an out and allowing an earned run on two walks as Obregon lost 4-1 to Guasave on Tuesday. Martinez bounced back against the Cottonmen on Wednesday to toss 1.1 IP scoreless innings. However the results were the same, as the Yaquis fell 9-4. Martinez didn’t see the mound again until Friday, when he shut down Culiacan for two innings, striking out two batters. Once again, his effort was lost as the Tribe bowed to the Tomato Pickers 7-5.
Puerto Rico Baseball League
Indios de Mayaguez
Iowa reliever Kyle Smit is seeing more action for the Indians. On Sunday, Smit picked up his first save in a scoreless two-thirds of an inning as Mayaguez defeated Ponce 3-2.
Kyle Smit came back on Friday and allowed an earned run in two innings and earned his second hold as the Tribe lost 6-5 to Ponce.
Venezuelan Winter League
Leones de Caracas
Iowa starter Jay Jackson stumbled mightily in his outing on Wednesday, recording only one out while allowing five earned runs. His Lions’ teammates rallied after his departure to bring home an 8-7 win over Anzoategui.
Navegantes del Magallanes
First baseman Bryan LaHair seized the home run lead in the VWL this week, as he is enjoying more protection in the line-up from Washington prospect Jesus Flores, Royals farmhand Mario Lisson, and the Cubs’ own Rebel Ridling.
The week started on Sunday with Bryan LaHair bashing his 11th home run, as he was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk in a 5-1 loss to Zulia. Rebel Ridling was 1-for-4 in the game.
Bryan LaHair and Rebel Ridling both had multi-hit games on Tuesday, and the Navigators bounced Zulia 10-3. Ridling was 2-for-4 with a walk, while LaHair thumped his 12th home run, going 2-for-5 with two RBI.
On Wednesday, fellow Cub farmhand Austin Bibens-Dirkx got the better of Magallanes, shutting them out 8-0. In the game, Bryan LaHair and Rebel Ridling were both 1-for-4.
Thursday saw Bryan LaHair and Rebel Ridling back on top, both going 2-for-3, with LaHair belting two more home runs to increase his league lead to 14. LaHair ended up with two RBI and a walk as the Navs edged La Guaira 5-4.
In the final game before Christmas break on Friday, Bryan LaHair was only able to coax a walk as he went 0-for-3. However, Rebel Ridling was 2-for-3 as the Pathfinders went home with a 5-4 victory over Aragua.
Aguilas del Zulia
In what may have been his last start of 2011, Austin Bibens-Dirkx outmatched former teammates Bryan LaHair and Rebel Ridling on Wednesday in the Eagles 6-0 shut-out of Magallanes. Bibens-Dirkx tossed six scoreless innings and struck out five batters to increase his record to 7-2.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO