“Finals Week” is usually a tense time but it didn’t seem to faze most as Leones de Escogido, Criollos de Caugas, and Esmailin Caridad and the Yaquis de Obregon made short work of their league championships. Each is now a representative in the Caribbean World Series, with Luis Valbuena and Cardenales de Lara and Navegantes de Magallanes battling for the final spot in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Meanwhile, in Australia, Ryan Searle and the Brisbane Bandits remained in a dogfight for the final playoff spot in the Australian Baseball League.
Note: Coverage of the winter leagues will be by calendar week, Sunday through Saturday
Dominican Winter League
As the Eagles were swept in four games by DWL champion Escogido, reliever Frank Batista was able to see some action. Batista tossed a scoreless inning in mop-up duty last Sunday, as Cibaenas lost 9-0.
Mexican Pacific League
Yaquis de Obregon
Obregon completed their improbable playoff run by sweeping Aguilas de Mexicali in the finals to claim their third straight LMP title. The only action reliever Esmailin Caridad saw was on Tuesday when he allowed an earned run in 0.1 IP. Caridad picked up his third hold, as the Yaquis defeated the Eagles 5-3.
Venezuelan Winter League
Cardenales de Lara
Lara secured a spot in the VWL finals on Sunday, as they defeated Caracas 7-4 in their last game of round-robin play. Luis Valbuena was 2-for-4 with a triple in the contest.
The finals started on Wednesday against powerhouse Magallanes, with the Cardinals taking it on the chin in a 5-2 loss. It wasn’t a particularly good start for Luis Valbuena as he was 0-for-3 with a walk.
However, on Thursday, the Navigators saw why the Redbirds are the hottest team going into the Caribbean World Series. Luis Valbuena started the scoring by cracking a solo home run, his third of the post-season, as he went 1-for-4 in a 3-0 victory.
Luis Valbuena then flexed his muscles again on Friday, as the Cards went up 2-1 in the series with a 4-2 win over Magallanes. Valbuena sparkled at the plate by going 2-for-3 with a walk, two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.
Lara made a furious comeback on Saturday but the Nav’s proved to be too much as they defeated the Cardinals 6-5 to even the series. Luis Valbuena drove in a run and was 2-for-5 in the game.
Caribes de Anzoategui
The Caribes were one of the teams that tied for second in the regular season. However they stumble in the round-robin playoff, finishing at 8-8. The Indians fought to the end, as Johermyn Chavez went 0-for-4 in Anzoategui’s 3-2 win over Zulia in 11 innings last Sunday.
The Tribe closed out their season on Monday by beating Zulia 6-3. Outfielder Johermyn Chavez was 0-for-4 in the victory.
Leones de Caracas
After tying for second in the regular season, the Lions were underwhelming in round-robin play, going 7-9. Limping to the finish line on Monday, catcher J.C. Boscan was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI as Caracas lost 4-1 to Magallanes.
Australian Baseball League
With the Bandits needing wins to secure a playoff spot, starter Ryan Searle picked the wrong time to lay an egg as Brisbane lost to league-leading Sydney on Friday night 13-0. Searle was only able to go three innings. Searle allowed five earned runs while striking out three and walking five batters. This put the Bandits a game behind the Perth Heat for the final playoff spot in the ABL. But while Brisbane and Sydney sat out a rain delay on Sunday, Perth crushed the Melbourne Aces 11-1 to lay claim that spot.
Tuesday’s with Tom U
After the success of last week’s initial Tuesday’s with Tom U. chat, The CCO will be offering another chance for everyone to join in the discussion. Join us on Facebook tomorrow, January 29, from 7:00pm CST until 8:00pm CST (that’s from 2:00pm to 3:00pm GMT for our international followers) for another Q & A session.
The CCO has a new Twitter feed dedicated to the Cubs minor league teams, prospects, and players @TheCCO_Minors … and now, minor league coverage has been included on the CCO’s Facebook page. Stay up to date with all minor league happenings by following Chicago Cubs Online on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Attention CCO Readers
The Down on the Farm reader’s poll continues this week. You can cast your votes on Twitter, Facebook, and the CCO. The leaders remained from last week, 3B Christian Villanueva and RHP Dillon Maples with RHP Juan Carlos Paniagua, 1B Dan Vogelbach, OF Jorge Soler, and RHP Pierce Johnson close behind. Please post the names of the minor league players you would like the Down on the Farm Report to follow next season. The CCO will track the progress of ten players throughout the entire season. A representative sample of positions and levels of play is optimal. You can name as many players as you like, but remember, only ten will be chosen. So from Luis Acosta to Tony Zych, all nominations will be accepted and given equal weight. Once a list is compiled of the top 20 vote getters, a poll will be placed on the site to cut the list in half.