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Hernán Pérez wins MVP title in Venezuela as Winter League playoffs heat up

1 year agoAndy Martinez

Spring training draws near, which means the winter leagues in Latin America are heating up. Playoffs wrapped up in the Dominican Republic and the playoffs are nearing an end in Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Here’s how current and former Cubs fared across Latin America.

Hernán Pérez capped off a stellar winter league season in the grandest manor. 

The infielder, who spent part of the 2020 season with the Cubs and their alternate site, was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2020-21 Venezuelan Winter League. Pérez, who plays for the Tigres de Aragua, garnered 167 total points and was named on 45 of 50 ballots, beating out the Twins’ Willians Astudillo, who played for Caribes de Anzoategui, for the crown. 

“I feel really happy for this achievement,” Pérez told the media in Venezuela. “I’m thankful to God for keeping me healthy this season and for letting me do what I like to do. 

“I’m thankful to my teammates, my coaches and the journalists who counted on me and voted for me. I especially want to thank my family, my wife and my children for all their support day in and day out. Of course, I am super proud to have been able to win the Vitico Davalillo Award (MVP).”

Pérez hit .402 in the regular season, the third-best mark in the league and also was in the Top 10 in the league in RBI (28), runs (29) and hits (41). 

The Tigres de Aragua are in the semifinals of the Venezuelan Winter League Playoffs and forced a decisive game 7 against the Cardenales de Lara that takes place Wednesday night. Pérez was 1-for-3 in game 6 with a walk and an RBI.

Ildemaro Vargas, who spent the second half of the 2020 season with the Cubs, is starring for Cardenales de Lara. 

Miguel Amaya’s season ends

After spending the 2020 season at the Cubs’ alternate site in South Bend, catching prospect pushed the Cubs to allow him to play winter ball. 

“He wanted to go get more at-bats,” Matt Dorey, vice president of player development said on the latest Cubs Weekly Podcast. “He felt so good with where he was at offensively and defensively that he went down to Puerto Rico and he played winter ball down there and got some more at-bats and some more experience, which we definitely supported.”

Amaya apparently has gotten enough looks, as he was shut down ahead of the championship series in Puerto Rico. Amaya hit 2 home runs with 11 RBI and had a 1.161 OPS in 38 plate appearances. 

Criollos de Caguas remedied their catching situation by picking Yadier Molina in the championship draft where teams in the championship series can select players from eliminated teams. Criollos de Caguas also activated former Cub Victor Caratini, whose rights they owned. 

Abiatal Avelino’s season ends

A perfect night at the plate for Abiatal Avelino was not enough to lift Gigantes del Cibao past Aguilas Cibaeñas in a Game 7, 7-4 loss for the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano championship. Aguilas are the second team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, en route to their 22nd championship, tied for most in the league with Tigres del Licey.

Avelino, who signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in the offseason, reached base in all 4 of his plate appearances Monday night, with 2 hits and a pair of walks. His leadoff single in the 5th inning kicked off a 2-run rally that gave Gigantes a short-lived 2-1 lead, with him scoring the tying run on a Ronald Guzmán single.

In the 9th, he tripled to center and came around to score his 2nd run of the game on a José Siri double, the final run for Gigantes.

Avelino played  in 28 regular season games for Gigantes, primarily at shortstop and some second base. The light-hitting shortstop showed good plate discipline throughout the season and playoffs (13 games) combining for 20 walks and 25 strikeouts in 130 at bats. 

The Cardinals’ Carlos Martínez made 2 starts for Aguilas Cibaeñas, allowing 3 earned runs in 12 innings of work, striking out 11 and allowing 3 walks and 6 hits.

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