While the regular season is over for the minor leagues there are several leagues that exist between October and January that are mostly participated in by minor leaguers with a few big leaguers mixed in. While the Arizona Fall League is the most well known there are six leagues that are in action around the world that will involve Major League affiliated players. Today I will give a quick preview on each league.
Arizona Fall League
Start date: October 7
The Arizona Fall League is probably the most well known of the winter leagues, likely due to their direct affiliation with Major League Baseball and the fact that it takes place here in the US. There are six teams in the league and each team is made up of prospects from five big league teams. The roster rules are a bit complex and some players are only able to play one day a week (referred to as Taxi Squad players). Every big league team sends 6-8 players and all but one, unless an exemption is granted, must have been in Double-A or higher as of August 1st.
The Reds team this season is the Surprise Saguaros. That team will be managed by Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos manager Delino DeShields. Cincinnati will be sending four position players and four pitchers to participate this year. The pitching staff will include LHP Ryan Dennick, RHP Carlos Gonzalez, RHP Nick Howard and RHP Ben Klimesh.The position players on the team will include 3B Seth Mejias-Brean, 2B Juan Perez, OF Kyle Waldrop and OF Jesse Winker.
There aren’t any online radio broadcasts of games and there isn’t television coverage except for the Rising Stars game, which has been on MLB Network since the network began. That game will take place on November 8th this year. The league will run through the middle of November with the championship taking place on November 15th.
Venezuelan Winter League
Start date: October 9
The Venezuelan Winter League is a bit different than the other leagues as it also has a minor league version known as “Liga Parallel”. There were nine players from the system who participated in it last year. There are rosters available on the official team sites, but they are not active rosters. What is there is simply a list of players who are “under control” of that team and it’s nearly 100 players per team. There are eight teams in the league and five make a round robin playoff. One of the good things about this particular league is that in past seasons you were able to watch some of the games online (though in Spanish).
Mexican Winter League
Start date: October 10
The Mexican Winter League, also known as the Mexican Pacific League, will be the third league to get things started this year. The rosters aren’t out for the league yet and one team site doesn’t expect it to show up until the day before the games begin. That unfortunately is something we see with a lot of these international leagues. Last season there were five players in the system who spent time in the league. The league favors hitters as most of the stadiums are at elevation where the ball flies. There is no online video or audio broadcasts of the games that I am aware of.
Dominican Winter League
Start date: October 17
In what is a common theme thus far for the leagues the Dominican Winter League hasn’t released their rosters yet. The league has six teams and four will make the playoffs. Like the Venezuelan League the team has rights to players that may be listed on their roster but will never show up in the games. Early on younger players will get more time, but as the league gets closer to spring training more veterans will work their way onto the roster and begin taking a majority of the playing time. Also like the Venezuelan Winter League this league will have games available to watch online (or has in the past).
Puerto Rican Winter League
Start date: October 30
This league was renamed the Roberto Clemente League a few years ago but is still referred to as the Puerto Rican Winter League outside of the country. There were six teams in the league last season, though the official MLB Caribbean League website is only listing five right now. Four teams make the playoffs. Last season there were seven players from the system that participated in the league, but like the others the rosters aren’t yet set. There is no audio or video broadcasts of the games that I am aware of.
Australian Baseball League
Start date: October 30
The Australian Baseball League is probably the most mixed league among the entire group as there are players from America, Europe, Central America, South America and various parts of Asia that all come together to form the rosters for the six teams that make up the league. Last year there were only two players who saw action from the system in Australia and both were limited to one game each. In past seasons there were more Reds players in the league, so we may see some this season. There is no audio or video broadcasts of the games that I am aware of.
The winner of the Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, Mexican and Dominican Winter Leagues all meet beginning in mid-January for a round robin tournament for the Caribbean Series Championship. Mexico took the crown last season.
Be sure to check back over the next two Tuesdays as I will preview the position players and pitchers that will be participating in the Arizona Fall League.