Good morning, Padres fans! As promised, I’m back with my Winter League forum, covering the day to day stats of the various Winter Baseball Leagues currently in play. Since it’s been a while since I’ve done this, here’s what happens. Down in the comments, I’ll post the boxscore stats for the known Padres affiliated players, based on what league they’re in. I’ll also include those minor leaguers who, though no longer be affiliated with the team but haven’t yet signed with a new organization, I’ll include them as well. If I miss anyone (because, to be frank, MLB’s coverage of the Winter Leagues is flat-out TERRIBLE), please let me know so I can add them to my list.
I’ll also post links to various articles I find interesting, which admittedly may be few and far between, given the on-going pandemic.
With that, for those of you who don’t know, here’s a quick primer on the main Winter Leagues that I’ll cover/you should know about:
Dominican Winter League: Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, or LIDOM, consists of 6 teams spead across the DR. In my eyes, it’s the current crème de la crème of the Winter Leagues, with more MLB or MLB adjacent talent playing on a daily basis than any other. Most teams possess several MLB players or top prospects. While a season would typically run from mid-October to the end of January, the pandemic has forced a shortened season this year. Quality of play is probably equivalent to AAA baseball on most days to MLB-quality for the top teams.
Mexican Pacific Winter League: Liga Mexicana del Pacífico, or LMP, runs a 10-team regular season, usually from October to December and followed by a playoff series in January to determine the league champion (though the pandemic is playing havoc with the schedule, as you can imagine). This is an older league, typically for players looking for a last chance, or for prospects looking to break in, though with the pandemic shutting down MiLB, many players signed on with local clubs to get some work in this year. Quality of play is probably around the AA baseball mark. Note that the LMP is currently on hold, due to COVID-19 outbreaks; we’ll see if they resume play.
Venezuelan Winter League: Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP) is an 8-team league, all along the country’s northern coastal region. Unfortunately, on August 22, 2019, MLB banned any affiliated players from playing in the Venezuelan League to comply with the U.S.’s embargo on Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro-led government. As a result, I won’t be covering this league, since no Padres players will be in it.
Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rican) Winter League: While Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (LBPRC) is one of the smallest Winter Leagues with only 6 teams (Roberto Alomar just founded a new team for this year), it has perhaps the greatest legacy, thanks to its namesake. They’ve been playing Winter Ball down in Puerto Rico for 82 years, and though they’ve gone through some tough times, most recently in 2007, the league still plays some quality baseball, with quality of play ranging somewhere between AA to AAA or better, as seen by the fact that they’ve had a team play in the Caribbean Series championship 3 of the last 4 years. This year, they’ll give LIDOM a run for it’s money in terms of quality; the rosters for several Puerto Rican teams are headlined by MLBers like Yadier Molina, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and others.
Australian Baseball League: The ABL is one of the newest Winter Leagues, founded in 2009 and playing its first season in 2010. It’s also probably the league with the lowest quality of play, consisting of Korean League (!) players and fringe MLB-prospects. Play is probably in A Ball to Hi-A minor league quality range, but, for those prospects without the ability to speak Spanish, it’s another venue to continue play/development, though this year is looking a little dicey, given the pandemic. Right now, the league looks to open play on 18 DEC, with 6 teams (Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney) instead of last year’s 8 teams (Auckland and Geelong-Korea decided to sit out the season).
So that’s the plan! Like I said, I’ll post the box score stats down in the comments.