The playoffs are winding down across the offseason winter leagues, and we'll soon have an idea about which teams will be moving on to the Caribbean Series.Scheduled to begin in early February, the Caribbean Series will feature the winners of the Dominican Republic, Mexican, Puerto Rico and Venezuela Winter Leagues,
The playoffs are winding down across the offseason winter leagues, and we'll soon have an idea about which teams will be moving on to the Caribbean Series.
Scheduled to begin in early February, the Caribbean Series will feature the winners of the Dominican Republic, Mexican, Puerto Rico and Venezuela Winter Leagues, as well as one team from Cuba.
Here's a recap of the latest action across the offseason leagues:
The Brisbane Bandits are headed to the Australian Baseball League postseason for the first time in the circuit's six-year history, and they'll receive a bye to the championship series after finishing with the league's top record (37-19) during the regular season. The Bandits secured the postseason berth with four-game sweep of Perth at home over the weekend.
Rays No. 22 prospect Justin Williams arguably was the top performer for Brisbane this offseason as well as one of the best hitters in the league, finishing with a robust .342/.398/.582 batting line, 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 47 games. Fellow Rays prospect and teammate Riley Unroe, who was coming off an underwhelming full-season debut, bounced back during his time with Brisbane, as the switch-hitter batted .318/.402/.389 over 55 games and paced the circuit in hits (67), runs scored (42) and stolen bases (14).
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, a fifth-round Draft pick in 2014 out of Cal State-Sacramento, added to his breakout 2015 campaign by hitting .301/.369/.508 with eight home runs, 16 doubles and 43 RBIs in 49 games for the Sydney Blue Sox.
Rangers No. 14 prospect Travis Demeritte used the ABL to make up for the time he lost during the regular season while serving an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in June. Though he didn't make any strides in terms of hitting for a higher average (.216) and striking out less (60 strikeouts in 204 at-bats), the 21-year-old second baseman did show consistent power, tallying nine home runs and 12 doubles in 56 games for the Adelaide Bite.
Vendalos de Mazatlan leads Aguilas de Mexicali 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. After dropping Game 1, 8-1, Mazatlan has rattled off three consecutive wins and is now within one game of clinching a Caribbean Series berth. Their 30-year-old outfielder, Justin Greene, a former farmhand of the White Sox (20th-round pick in 2008) and D-backs, is having a nice postseason for Mazatlan, hitting .373/.403/.522 with 25 hits, 12 runs scored and seven stolen bases in only 17 games. During the regular season, he batted .331/.393/.426 with 11 steals.
Tigres del Licey were able to avoid being swept in the Dominican Republic's LIDOM Championship series Sunday night as they edged Leones del Escogido, 7-6, in the bottom of the ninth courtesy of a fielding error by Licey shortstop Pedro Lopez.
In the game, Leones received contributions from the bottom of the lineup, a group that includes big leaguers Leonys Martin (2-for-4), Yamaico Navarro (3-for-5) and Zoilo Almonte (2-for-3). Licey still holds a commanding 4-1 series in the best-of-nine series, however, which means Licey must win its remaining games to advance to the Caribbean Series.
There hasn't been much offense in the LBPRC Finals between Indios de Mayaguez and Cangrejeros de Santurce, as the teams have combined for only 12 runs through three games. Mayaguez currently holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series thanks to a pair of shutouts: former big leaguer (and owner of a no-hitter) Jonathan Sanchez opened the series with seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings in Game 1 before turning it over to the bullpen, while Andrew Barbarosa, a Mets farmhand who split the 2015 season between the D-backs' and Braves' systems, fired six scoreless frames in Game 3.
On the other side of the ball, Mayaguez continues to be paced by Twins slugger Kennys Vargas, who finished the regular season on a tear with a .405/.476/.784 batting line over his final 10 contests and hit seven home runs in 33 games overall. Mets infielder T. J. Rivera, who went unselected in December's Rule 5 Draft, has been Mayaguez's top hitter in the postseason with a .316 average -- this after he batted .302/.375/.453 with more walks (10) than strikeouts (seven) for the club during the regular season. Signed by the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Rivera, 27, is a career .318/.366/.418 hitter over parts of six seasons in the Minor Leagues.
Navegantes del Magallanes' offense has been firing on all cylinders in the best-of-seven LVBP Championship series against Tigres de Aragua, which it currently leads, 2-1. Thirty-two-year-old center field Alex Romero (.386 average) has been the table-settler atop the order for Magallanes, and he's been driven in regularly by a combination of Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia (.350) and designated hitter Frank Diaz (.370).
Aragua's lone win in the series came Sunday night and was courtesy a walk-off home run by Orioles outfielder Alfredo Marte in the bottom of the 12th inning. The homer was his second of the series and fourth of the postseason, and he leads the team with 12 RBIs during that span. White Sox second baseman Carlos Sanchez also has swung a hot bat for Aragua in the series, hitting an even .500 through 14 at-bats while serving as the team's three-hole hitter.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.