The Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League regular season is just over a week old now. All four Caribbean winter leagues are finally in full swing.
Los Gigantes de Carolina have gained an early jump on the five team circuit with a 3-0 record. Mets catcher Juan Centeno has a double in 6 at-bats for los Gigantes, scored a run, and has one RBI. Mets fans might also remember infielder Ruben Gotay, who played in Flushing during the 2007 season.
In second place with a 3-3 record, los Congrejeros de Santurce feature six players on MLB 40-man rosters. Most notable are Mike Aviles from Cleveland and Christian Vazquez from Boston. Three players belong to the Cincinnati Reds; Derrick Robinson, Billy Hamilton and Neftali Soto.
I personally root for los Criollos de Caguas, who currently reside in third place with a 2-3 record. They feature former Mets Nelson Figueroa and Ramon Castro, and various MLB 40-man roster players such as Alex Rios of Texas, Daniel Bard of the Cubs, and Johnny Monell of San Francisco. They are managed by current Binghamton Mets skipper, Pedro Lopez.
In fourth place with a 1-2 record, los Indios de Mayaguez are managed by another former Met, Carlos Baerga. Included on MLB 40-man rosters are Hiram Burgos and Martin Maldonado from Milwaukee, Matt Magill from the Dodgers, Rene Rivera from San Diego, Irving Falu of Kansas City, and Jerry Sands of Pittsburgh. Tentatively participating from the Mets are Randy Fontanez and T.J. Rivera, who both spent last season playing in Port St. Lucie.
Tied with los Indios, are los Leones de Ponce. Baseball and Padres fans might remember their field manager, Carmelo Martinez. Reymond Fuentes of San Diego is the lone MLB 40-man roster player on the team. Ryan Fraser, who split time last season between PSL and Binghamton, has so far made one appearance, and pitched one inning for los Leones, allowed a hit, walked one and struck out two. Reliever Pedro Feliciano and Brooklyn Cyclones catcher Tomas Nido, like several of the Mets players listed here, are currently in reserve status.
Overall, only Juan Centeno and Ryan Fraser have seen game action.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, currently leads the Dominican League with a .396 batting average. In 12 games and 48 at-bats for Aguilas Cibaenas, Juan has 19 hits, 6 runs scored, 6 RBI, and a .400 OBP. Juan is also tied for 3rd in the league with 4 stolen bases.
In the Venezuelan Baseball League, Binghamton Mets first baseman Allan Dykstra, has only appeared in ten games for los Navegantes de Magallanes, so does not qualify in the batting race, but in 27 at-bats, he has 11 hits for a .407 average. He has 2 doubles and a home run for a .593 slugging average, and sports a .529 OBP. His team mate, Wilfredo Tovar, has 12 hits in 40 at-bats for a .300 average, 3 doubles, a home run and 8 RBI.