Everything you need to know about LIDOM this season

October 19th, 2023

With both League Championship Series in full swing, Major League Baseball’s season is winding down -- just as circuits in Latin America are getting underway.

Thursday is Opening Day for the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League, the country’s winter league. Abbreviated as LIDOM for its name in Spanish, the league is made up of six teams: the reigning champion Tigres del Licey in the capital of Santo Domingo, the Leones del Escogido also in Santo Domingo, the Águilas Cibaeñas in Santiago, the Gigantes del Cibao in San Francisco de Macorís, the Toros del Este in La Romana and the Estrellas Orientales in San Pedro de Macorís.

For the third straight season, all regular season and postseason LIDOM games will be available for streaming live on MLB.TV.

Thursday’s opening slate features three games:

  • Toros del Este @ Estrellas Orientales - 7:30 ET p.m.
  • Gigantes del Cibao @ Águilas Cibaeñas - 7:30 ET p.m.
  • Leones del Escogido @ Tigres del Licey - 7:45 ET p.m.

The teams will play a 50-game regular season ending on Dec. 22, followed by an 18-game round-robin playoff and a best-of-seven final series to determine the league champion. At stake is the chance to represent the Dominican Republic at the 2024 Caribbean Series at loanDepot park in Miami in February, which features representatives from the four full members of the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico) and three guests (Nicaragua, Panama and Curaçao).

Here’s what you need to know.

New season, new rules
This season, LIDOM has adopted the new rules implemented in the Major Leagues during the 2023 season, including an increase in the sizes of the bases from 15 to 18 inches, limits on defensive shifts in the infield and, of course, a pitch clock and penalties for violations -- although with some modifications. Per the league website, pitchers will be allowed 20 seconds between pitches regardless of whether or not there are runners on base. Under MLB’s rules, pitchers are allowed only 15 seconds between pitches if the bases are empty.

LIDOM’s board of directors also approved the use of PitchCom devices for the electronic transmission of signs between the pitcher and the catcher. And while the league implemented the automatic runner on second base starting in the 12th inning during the 2022-23 campaign, this season it will bring that rule into alignment with MLB by deploying the automatic runner from the 10th inning onward.

The other notable change to coming LIDOM this season is the three-game exhibition series between the league’s archrivals and two winningest franchises, the Tigres (23 national titles) and Águilas (22), dubbed “Titans of the Caribbean” that will take place at Citi Field in New York from Nov. 10-12. The games will not count towards LIDOM’s championship season.

And, for the first time in its history, LIDOM allowed players to become free agents if they met certain criteria, which has resulted in some well-known names switching teams.

Players to watch
Though LIDOM rosters are typically in a state of constant flux, you can count on a mix of up-and-coming Major League prospects and seasoned veterans, many of whom will be recognizable to U.S. fans.

This season, many eyes will be on Junior Caminero, the Rays' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who was selected by Escogido with the first pick of this year’s LIDOM rookie draft and has permission to play for a month with the team, according to Leones general manager (and current Yankees third-base coach) Luis Rojas. Caminero made his Major League debut with Tampa Bay on Sept. 23 after impressing with a .324/.384/.591 slash line in 117 games between High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery in 2023.

No. 14 Cubs prospect Alexander Canario, who made his Major League debut in September, has reportedly been granted permission to play for the Águilas again this winter after seeing action with them during the 2022-23 campaign. Other names of note on the Águilas include Óscar Mercado, Juan Lagares and Starlin Castro.

Last season, Licey captured the national championship -- and eventually the Caribbean Series crown -- with infielders Ronny Mauricio of the Mets and Elly De La Cruz of the Reds as key members of their offense. Mauricio is the reigning LIDOM MVP. While it seems unlikely that he or De La Cruz will be cleared to play to any extent this winter after making their Major League debuts in 2023, Licey has a Top 100 name to watch, shortstop Orelvis Martinez, who is the No. 2 prospect in the Blue Jays system and No. 88 overall. He will join a Licey team that features veterans Emilio Bonifácio, César Valdez and Mel Rojas Jr.

Slugger Nelson Cruz, who started the 2023 MLB season with the Padres but was designated for assignment on July 4, is planning a farewell tour by playing one game for the Gigantes in each of the league’s six ballparks in November. It would be his first time suiting up for the Gigantes since 2016, when he reinforced the team for the postseason. And 46-year-old right-hander Fernando Rodney, who last pitched in the Majors in 2019 when he won a World Series with the Nationals, will be back on the mound with the Gigantes for a second consecutive season.

Over in San Pedro de Macorís, Red Sox Minor League left-hander Rio Gomez, son of late ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez, is expected to be part of the Estrellas' rotation, and there has been talk of Fernando Tatis Jr. taking some hacks for the club. Estrellas manager Fernando Tatis Sr. said in a recent press conference that his son has permission to play in 20 games, though the Padres told MLB.com this week that the two sides were still discussing the matter. Tatis last played winter ball with the Estrellas during the 2020 playoffs. Robinson Canó has rejoined the Estrellas after seeing action for the team the last three seasons and representing the D.R. in the Caribbean Series from 2021-23.

The advent of free agency means that longtime Estrellas captain Junior Lake is now with Escogido, while the Toros signed LIDOM all-time home run leader Juan Francisco (117 career home runs, including postseason play), who previously played for the Gigantes and the Tigres. The Toros have also added another veteran, Yermín Mercedes.

How to watch
The Dominican Winter League games are included as part of MLB.TV's Postseason Package, which is available for $24.99. LIDOM games will be broadcast exclusively in Spanish. The games will be live-streamed but not archived. There will be TV broadcasts, but no radio broadcasts.

You can watch the games on the MLB app or online at MLB.com. You can find the full streaming schedule for the 2023 LIDOM season here.