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Hey Boy Howdy, you got a lowdown on the Carribean World Series?


SteveA

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Live baseball returns to TV tomorrow as the MLB network is televising the Carribean World Series. I know that Boy Howdy follows the Latin leagues as much or more than anyone here.... would he (or someone) be so kind as to give us a rundown on the teams involved, what Oriole connections they have, and any other backstory that will enhance our viewing pleasure?

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I haven't been following but I know the Series will be held on Margarita Island, Venezuela this year.

The Dominican team, Leones del Escogido, is managed by Ken Oberkfell, former ML 3B and utility player. Their big story this winter has been Francisco Liriano. Their best hitters have been Wilson Betemit and Conor Jackson. Former O's Willis Otanez and Nerio Rodriguez have played for them, and Al Reyes also made two appearances. Pedro Florimon has played 3 games, with 8 AB.

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I haven't been following but I know the Series will be held on Margarita Island, Venezuela this year.

The Dominican team, Leones del Escogido, is managed by Ken Oberkfell, former ML 3B and utility player. Their big story this winter has been Francisco Liriano. Their best hitters have been Wilson Betemit and Conor Jackson. Former O's Willis Otanez and Nerio Rodriguez have played for them, and Al Reyes also made two appearances. Pedro Florimon has played 3 games, with 8 AB.

Wow, Willis Otanez and Nerio Rodriguez! There are a few names from the past that I haven't thought of in years.

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TGO beat me to the punch and did a pretty good job. (Though Betemit was sent to the Gigantes club earlier in the winter and blasted 4 homers against Escogido in the finals. Jackson went back to the USA in November). Nerio Rodriguez and Willis Otanez were both active contributors in the Dominican finals, so there's a good chance they'll still be playing. The teams do tend to pick up ringers from eliminated clubs though, so there's always a chance for surprises.

Escogido used to be the dominant powerhouse in the DR, but this was their first championship in 18 years. They finished with the best regular season record, but had to fight for their lives (including multiple bench-clearing incidents against the Licey club that got two managers suspended during the semis). In the best-of-nine finals, Escogido was two outs from elimination when they fought back to win Game 8 in extra innings. They prevailed in the finale behind Twins lefty Francisco Liriano, who went 40 innings without allowing an earned run at one point. (Apparently Liriano will not pitch in the Caribbean Series, though former Orioles Julio Manon has been added to the roster). Mets prospect Fernando Martinez was their leading hitter in the finals.

I'm a lot more familiar with the Dominican League, but here are some brief notes on the other nations' entries.

Puerto Rico's champs, the Indios de Mayaguez had former Orioles Bernie Castro and Fernando Cabrera on their finals roster. The Puerto Rican league came back from the dead, and on paper this seems to be the weakest club in the tourney.

As for Venezuela, the recently designated-for-assigmnent (was that ever confirmed) Armando Gabino pitched well in the playoffs for the champion Leones del Caracas.

The Naranjeros de Hermosillo won the Mexican Pacific League title. Their current players include ex-O's Geronimo Gil, Karim Garcia and almost-O Chris Roberson. Dennis Sarfate made 14 appearances for them earlier in the winter, but he's not around anymore. Former MLB All Star Vinny Castilla is still playing for them, though.

That's about it for Orioles connections as far as I know. Enjoy! Viva beisbol!

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