This week, the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe en espanol) takes the top 4 teams from several winter leagues in Central America and pits them against one another in a round-robin tournament. Teams from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela take the field this year in Mexicali, Mexico and play each other twice.
The winner of the Caribbean Series is the team of those four that finishes with the best record. MLB Network will have complete coverage.
Carlos Marmol was pitching for the Dominican team during the Winter League regular season. He’s going to bail on the Serie del Caribe, however, because of the upcoming World Baseball Classic and Spring Training.
These winter ball tournaments seem to have a negative effect on pitchers. Hitters seem to benefit, though, because it keeps them sharp against quality pitching.
If you find yourself watching the 2009 Caribbean Series, keep an eye on the three players featured below who might play a role in your 2009 fantasy baseball draft decisions.
Erick Aybar, SS, Anaheim Angels (Dominican Republic). Aybar should be the Angels starting shortstop in 2009 because it seems like they have no interest in resigning free agent Orlando Cabrera. With a full tilt of playing time, Aybar could be an attractive late round sleeper. In only 348 at-bats last season, he batted .277 with 3 homeruns, 39 RBI, 53 runs, and 7 steals. 100-run potential late in a draft sounds like a solid investment to me.
Jose Batista, 3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays (Dominican Republic). Similar to Aybar, Batista has put up decent numbers in a utility-type role with the Pirates over the past few seasons. He’ll be the main stopgap for the Blue Jays in the event Lyle Overbay or Scott Rolen lose time to injury, which is highly likely. Last season, he batted .238 with 15 homeruns, 54 RBI, 45 runs and 1 steal. He’s not worth a mixed league draft pick and should probably remain on the waiver wire until Rolen or Overbay hit the DL.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres (Mexico). A-Gonz and his brother Edgar will be playing for the host team in this year’s Series. A-Gonz is one of the most underappreciated studs in fantasy baseball. The last two seasons, he has hit over 30 homeruns, knocked in over 100 runs and scored over 100 runs. His current average draft position is 35, which puts him right around the same spots as Jason Bay, Carlos Quentin, and Kevin Youkilis. Gonzo is definitely a good value at this position.