Winter League Wednesday: 2021-22 season kicks off
With the World Series underway, the final days of the 2021 baseball season are here.
For Chicagoans, it signals the waning of warm weather and bracing for the cold and gloom of a baseball-less four months. But for baseball fans further south, the season is just heating up. The offseason party has already started in Mexico and Venezuela and Wednesday night, the Dominican Republic opens its season with broadcasts now available through MLB TV.
Last winter included plenty of impactful performances from current Cubs.
Rafael Ortega slashed .301/.427/.480 through 35 games for Caribes de Anzoátegui in a season that culminated in a four-game sweep for the team’s fourth championship in Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP).
Sergio Alcántara played in 23 games for Tigres de Licey in the Dominican Republic in a disappointing season for the team, who finished last after featuring in five of the previous seven league finals.
In Mexico, a pair of 19-year-olds made their league debut for champions Tomatero de Culiacan. Pitcher Manuel Espinoza started four games and threw 18.1 innings while infielder Luis Verdugo featured in seven. Tomateros will be playing for their third-consecutive league title this season and fourth in the last five years.
Another of last year’s winter league champions featured a core of Cubs players. Sixth-ranked Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya, Johneshwy Fargas, Trent Giambrone and Luis Vazquez helped Criollos de Caguas to a third title in five years in Puerto Rico’s Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente. LPBRC begins its 32-game season Nov. 6.
Winter League Debutantes
A few Cubs prospects will make their winter league debuts this season.
Ninth-ranked prospect Alexander Canario was selected in the 1st round of the LIDOM rookie draft by Aguilas Cibaeñas. The outfielder was included in the trade that sent Kris Bryant to the Giants.
Pitcher Eury Ramos and 19-year-old Kevin Made were selected by Estrellas Orientales. The latter has one professional season to his name, where he slashed .272/.296/.366 over 58 games with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2021 while spending time at third base and shortstop. The 24-year-old Ramos is Rule 5 eligible and will be looking to lock down a 40-man roster spot with a strong season.
In Venezuela, outfielder Yonathan Perlaza has started in all three games for Aguilas de Zulia, and put together a three-hit performance Sunday. He shares the same Rule 5 roster limbo as Ramos.
As rosters get finalized and games get underway, be sure to follow along every Wednesday all winter long.
Winter Ball Opening Days
Mexico – Oct. 5
Dominican Republic – Oct. 27
Venezuela – Oct. 23
Puerto Rico – Nov. 6
Serie del Caribe (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – Jan. 28-Feb. 3