Cubs’ prospects are contributing to some exciting races in the winter leagues. Cibaenas and Oriente are locked in a struggle for first in the Dominican Winter League with Frank Batista and Manny Ramirez squaring off against Junior Lake and Marcos Mateo.
In the Mexican Pacific League, Obregon won the first half title with help from the emerging offense of Christian Villanueva.
Meanwhile in the Venezuelan Winter League, Aragua is trying to make some noise as Willson Contreras keeps on slugging.
For more, here’s this week’s Down on the Farm Report.
Editor’s Note: Coverage of the winter leagues run from Sunday to Saturday.
Dominican Winter League
The offense came through for Cibaenas last Sunday in a 6-3 victory over Cibao. Manny Ramirez tied for the league lead with four RBI to bring his season total to 18. Ramirez was 2-for-5 with two doubles.
The Eagles weren’t able to put anything together offensively on Monday as they lost to Estrellas 4-1. Manny Ramirez continues to excel at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with a walk.
First place remained in the hands of the Aguilas on Tuesday as they beat Escogido 7-5. It was another quality start for Frank Batista, as he allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two in 5.1 innings. Manny Ramirez provided support as he went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored.
After losing first place on Thursday, Cibaenas stayed within a game of first on Friday with a 3-2 win over Escogido. Manny Ramirez cooled off and went 0-for-4 in the victory.
On Saturday, the Eagles saw the gap between them and first place Oriente widen to two games as they lost to Estrellas 3-1. Manny Ramirez was 1-for-4 in the loss.
Toros del Este
Este used two runs in the bottom of the ninth to edge Cibao 3-2 on Tuesday. Alberto Cabrera struck out the only batter he faced.
Estrellas de Oriente
Estrellas was able to take on mighty Cibaenas Monday and come away a 4-1 winner. Junior Lake started in left but struggled. Lake struck out three times in three plate appearances before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. It was save No. 10 for Marcos Mateo as he fanned one batter in a scoreless ninth.
It was a pitcher’s duel on Tuesday as Oriente came out on top of Licey 1-0. Junior Lake (0-for-4) was one of the players stymied by the hurlers. Marcos Mateo struck out two in the ninth for his 11th save.
The outcome for the Eastern Stars was never in doubt on Wednesday as they romped past Escogido 9-4. Junior Lake took over the league lead in stolen bases with three to raise his total to 11. Lake went 1-for-5 with a walk and two runs scored. In his winter debut, Iowa catcher Luis Flores went 0-for-2.
Oriente took advantage of Cibaenas being idle on Thursday to grab first place as Estrellas beat Este 3-2. Junior Lake scored the game tying run in the bottom of the ninth as he went 1-for-3 with a walk.
Estrellas held on to their fragile first place lead on Friday with a 2-1 victory over Licey. Junior Lake remained a demon on the base paths with two more stolen bases as he went 0-for-1 with two walks and a run scored. Marcos Mateo maintained his league lead in saves with his 12th as he struck out the side in the ninth.
The Stars increased their first place lead to two games by defeating their closest pursuer, Cibaenas, 3-1 on Saturday. Junior Lake went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk, while Marcos Mateo was still gold out of the bullpen. Mateo pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout for save No. 13.
Leones del Escogido
Escogido was not able to keep pace with first place Cibaenas on Tuesday and lost 7-5. Carlos Pimentel had some trouble after a few good outings and allowed two earned runs on two hits while only pitching 0.1 innings.
Even with two late runs, the Leones were never in the game on Wednesday as they bowed to Oriente 9-4. Carlos Pimentel struck out the only batter he faced in relief of starter Daniel Cabrera.
Tigres del Licey
A feeble comeback attempt in the ninth was all Licey could muster last Sunday in an 8-2 loss to Escogido. Arismendy Alcantara is still getting himself in baseball shape as he went 0-for-3 while starting in centerfield. Marco Hernandez was 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter.
The Tigres came out on the short end of a pitcher’s duel and lost 1-0 to Oriente on Tuesday. Arismendy Alcantara started in centerfield and went 1-for-3 at the plate.
A fast start was not enough to help the Tigers on Wednesday as the lost to Cibao 6-3. Arismendy Alcantara led off the game with a home run and was 3-for-4 in the loss.
Held to only three hits on Friday, Licey fell 2-1 to Oriente. Arismendy Alcantara moved to second base and went 0-for-3.
The Cats are still struggling to stay out of the basement of the DWL as they lost 4-3 to Este on Saturday. Arismendy Alcantara was back in centerfield and went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Marco Hernandez played second base and was 0-for-4.
Mexican Pacific League
Yaquis de Obregon
A big first inning was a good way to start out the week as Obregon coasted to a 5-1 victory over Navojoa last Sunday. Christian Villanueva showed the patience you like to see out of a top of the order batter. Villanueva worked three walks and ended up 0-for-1 with a run scored.
The Yaquis broke the game open on Wednesday with a big fifth inning and then held on to beat Mazatlan 5-4. Christian Villanueva continues to contribute as he went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Although the Tribe lost 6-5 in 10 innings on Thursday to Mazatlan, they closed out the first half of the season with the best record in the Mexican Pacific League and a spot in the playoffs. Christian Villanueva did his best to propel the offense as he smacked a game tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Obregon opened the second half of the season on Friday with a 7-3 loss to Los Mochis. Christian Villanueva remained steady in his contributions as he went 2-for-5.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League
Senadores de San Juan
The San Juan offense is starting to get in gear, but they still cannot make it translate into production as they lost 4-1 to Carolina last Sunday. Centerfielder John Andreoli has taken over the league lead with six stolen bases as he went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored out of the leadoff spot. First baseman Jonathan Mota was 0-for-4.
A day off may have been what the Senadores needed as they handled Caguas 8-3. John Andreoli remained unstoppable on the base paths. Andreoli stole two more bases and raised his winter total to eight while going 1-for-4 with a walk. Jonathan Mota drove in a run as he went 1-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Once again, the Senators’ offense had trouble putting things together and lost 3-1 to Caguas on Wednesday. John Andreoli has batted .320 over his last 10 games and was 1-for-3 with a walk. Jonathan Mota went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored San Juan’s only run.
It was more of the same for San Juan on Friday as their offense could not produce in a 3-2 loss to Caguas. John Andreoli went 0-for-5 as the leadoff hitter while Jonathan Mota was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Venezuelan Winter League
Leones del Caracas
It was a laugher of epic proportions on Thursday as Caracas used a six-run first inning to cruise to a 12-3 win over Magallanes. Loiger Padron pitched the ninth inning and held Navagantes scoreless.
A comeback attempt in the late innings in Saturday failed for the Lions as they lost to La Guaira 6-4. Yoanner Negrin made his first start in a month. Negrin pitched 4.1 innings while allowing two runs (one earned) with a walk and a strikeout.
Tiburones de La Guaira
La Guaira had the game pretty much in control on Tuesday as they beat Anzoategui 5-2. Joseph Ortiz is emerging as a reliable lefty out of the pen as he went 1.1 perfect innings with two strikeouts for his second hold.
The Tiburones were able to use an offensive outburst in the middle innings on Thursday to secure a 6-4 win over Margarita. Joseph Ortiz continues to sparkle in relief as he went 1.2 scoreless innings with a strikeout.
The Hammerheads were able to hold a lead on Saturday as they outlasted Caracas 6-4. Joseph Ortiz was scored upon for the first time this winter. Ortiz gave up two earned runs in 0.2 innings.
Tigres de Aragua
After taking an early lead on Saturday, everything fell apart for Aragua as they lost 13-3 to Lara. Willson Contreras gave the Tigers the lead in the second inning with a two-run homer, his fourth of the season.
News and Notes
Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League added catcher Luis Flores to the roster.