Dominican Winter League Preview

By Christopher Soto

October 13, 2018 No comments

The Dominican Winter Baseball League is one of the four Caribbean World Series participating independent baseball leagues that run during the MLB off-season. The six team league’s regular season consists of fifty games between October and December.

The LIDOM is the most competitive league in the circuit, often drawing a large amount of MLB caliber players in addition to Dominican minor leaguers and non-native imports. Each team is allowed to import up to ten non-Dominican Republic native players and you can generally find a number of MiLB AA and AAA level and even current MLB talent on these lists each season. If I had to personally measure it, I would say the average LIDOM team is probably on par with most MiLB (AAA) teams.

With the New York Mets heavy scouting presence in the country, over a dozen players can usually be found participating in the LIDOM each season. Based on pre-season camp information we have received so far, there are in fact twelve players who’s names have appeared on rosters.

OF John Mora
Team: 
Aguilas Cibaenas
2018 Stats
: (AA) .234 AVG, .673 OPS, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 4 SB, 22.2% K, 9.3% BB

Mora is a regular participant in the LIDOM and will be returning to the Aguilas for his third season with the club. While he did not get much playing time in his first season, he did appear in twenty-one games during the 2017-2018 season primarily as a late inning strategical pinch runner for the club. Due to the massive amount of talent the Aguilas usually have, I would expect Mora to have the same role this season.

OF Jhoan Urena
Team: 
Gigantes del Cibao
2018 Stats
: (AA) .261 AVG, .742 OPS, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 2 SB, 24.0% K, 8.4% BB

Urena is also a regular participant in the LIDOM and will be returning to the Gigantes for his third season with the club. Unlike Mora though, Urena did not get much playing time in his second season with the club due to his inclusion on the MiLB exhaustion list in 2017-2018 for having more than 550 plate appearances. With no such limitation this year, he should have a much bigger role for the defending regular season leaders.

1B Joey Terdoslavich
Team: 
Gigantes del Cibao
2018 Stats
: (AA) .308 AVG, .840 OPS, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 2 SB, 16.4% K, 8.8% BB

Terdoslavich, basically a LIDOM mercenary, is returning to the Dominican Republic for his fourth season in the season with his fourth different team as the Gigantes selected him to be one of their ten imports this season. While Terdoslavich has played mostly first base during his career, the Gigantes also imported first baseman Ryan P. O ‘Hearn and have Terdoslavich listed on their roster as a “1B/OF”. Due to this, I would expect him to see most of his playing time in the corner outfield spots for the the Gigantes.

SS Amed Rosario
Team: 
Aguilas Cibaenas
2018 Stats
: (MLB) .256 AVG, .676 OPS, 9 HR, 51 RBI, 24 SB, 20.1% K, 4.9% BB

Before anyone gets excited…you should probably learn about this thing called the MLB Exhaustion list. If a player in the MLB or MiLB meets any one of the threshold to make the list, they cannot participate in any Winter League baseball unless an exemption is received from the team. For MLB position players like Rosario, the threshold is 503 Plate Appearances, a mark Rosario exceeds by 89 plate appearances. With that said, I wouldn’t expect to see the Mets grant him a exemption so don’t expect to see Rosario at all this winter as he will remain a reserve.

SS Jose Reyes
Team: 
Aguilas Cibaenas
2018 Stats
: (MLB) .189 AVG, .580 OPS, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 5 SB, 15.5% K, 8.8% BB

Very few players can say that they had a worse 2018 season than Jose Reyes in what is most certainly his final season with the Mets. Now a free agent, Reyes could return home and try and showcase himself to teams looking for some minor league depth by playing well in the LIDOM. While he is in the Dominican Republic, I have not received any reports indicating that he has actually reported to pre-season camp so it does seem like he will at least start the season as a reserve. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name pop up later in the year.

OF Juan Lagares
Team: 
Aguilas Cibaenas
2018 Stats
: (MLB) .339 AVG, .765 OPS, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB, 14.1% K, 4.7% BB

2018 was another unfortunate season for Juan Lagares in what was shaping up to be a solid season for him in his new role as a spot starter/defensive replacement. A complete tear of the plantar plate in his left foot would cut his season short after only 30 games played and forced him back to the surgery table. Despite the lost time, Lagares does plan on playing winter ball this season as he reported to pre-season camp for the Aguilas and participated at “full speed” in outfield drills in late September. In an interview with CDNNews in the Dominican Republic, Lagares stated that, “It’s a little weird, but I feel good…I have no pain. I think I’ll be fine in a couple of weeks….I’ve been too long at home, in bed, resting…..I feel like I need to work. I need to play.” I would anticipate Lagares receiving clearly to play sometime in mid to late November.

1B/OF Dominic Smith
Team: 
Toros del Este
2018 Stats
: (MLB) .224 AVG, .675 OPS, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB, 31.5% K, 2.7% BB

Time is running out for the former first round pick to prove that he can be part of the solution for the Mets in the future. With fellow first base prospect Peter Alonso now on the cusp of an MLB promotion, Smith and the team agreed to allow the Toros del Este to use one of their ten import slots to get him some more game experience in the outfield in the LIDOM. According to Toros executive Raymond Abreu, “Smith has many qualities, he has power and can put the ball in the gaps for extra bases.” Due to being on the MLB roster, Smith was a late report to camp while so he may spend the first few games on the bench, I would fully expect him to be an everyday player for the club.

Photo by Ed Delany

UT Hansel Moreno
Team: 
Aguilas Cibaenas
2018 Stats
: (A) .248 AVG, .705 OPS, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 21 SB, 28.5% K, 6.8% BB

After a solid 2017 season in Kingsport and the GCL, Moreno skipped Brooklyn and held his own in the South Atlantic League this season despite getting a late start on the season and being bounced around multiple positions. He reported to camp for the Aguilas but with such a large roster of returning players there really wasn’t going to be much playing time for him. So instead of remaining on the reserve squad, Moreno has made the decision to travel to Colombia to get regular playing time there. That said, things can certainly change as the season moves along so I would not be surprised to see him return to the Dominican Republic if the Aguilas ask him to.

RHP Jennry Mejia
Team: 
Toros del Este
2018 Stats
: Suspended

2018 was a year of second chances for Jennry Mejia as in July, he received his reinstatement into the MLB for the 2019 from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. Even earlier than that though, Mejia was given a second chance in the LIDOM by the Toros del Este signing him off of free agency on May 9th. Mejia was originally a member of the Tigres del Licey, but he was released after the 2016-2017 season after control issues led to him to a 13.50 ERA with a 13.5 BB/9 rate. With a renewed commitment, Mejia was one of the first players to report to pre-season camp and earned himself a spot in the Toros starting rotation.

RHP Tim Peterson
Team: 
Toros del Este
2018 Stats
: (MLB) 2-2 Record, 0 Saves, 27.2 IP, 6.18 ERA, 1.229 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.6 BB/9

Despite producing some poor stats in the MLB, Peterson’s peripheral stats suggest that he had a better season than it seems. He posted a decent K/9 rate, kept his walks under control, threw a ton of strikes (69%), and produced an MLB average swinging strike rate (11%). His main problem was the long ball as he allowed eight bombs in only 27 IP including four of them being two run homers. Despite that, the Toros del Este decided to use one of their ten import slots to bring Peterson into the LIDOM to be a member of their bullpen this season. As was the case with Smith, Peterson was also a late report to camp due to his inclusion on the Mets expanded September roster.

RHP Nabil Crismatt
Team: 
Tigres del Licey
2018 Stats
: (AA/AAA) 11-10 Record, 0 Saves, 144.0 IP, 5.00 ERA, 1.472 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 3.5 BB/9

Crismatt continues the run of LIDOM teams using import slots to bring in non-native Mets players. This will actually be the Colombian born right hander’s second appearance in a Winter League season as he appeared in seven games (four starts) for the Gigantes de Carolina in Puerto Rico during the 2016-2017 season. Crismatt is expected to be a member of the Tigres rotation to begin the season and is actually lined up to face fellow Jenrry Mejia for his first start of the season. One has to wonder how many innings Crismatt has left in the tank though having already matched his career high in innings pitched during the regular season.

RHP Franklyn Kilome
Team: 
Leones del Escogido
2018 Stats
: (AA) 4-9 Record, 0 Saves, 140.0 IP, 4.18 ERA, 1.343 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 3.9 BB/9

One of the newest members of the Mets organization, Kilome was actually somewhat of a surprise addition to the Leones del Escogido roster. While he did make six starts for them last season, Kilome has already well past his previous career high for innings pitched and shouldn’t have much more left in the tank. While he’s not on the MiLB exhaustion list, I honestly would not expect him to be on the active roster to begin the season.