The Dominican Winter League (LIDOM) ended on Saturday, December 18th. The LIDOM playoffs begin today, December 19th, with the champion playing in the Caribbean Series in January. The league featured six teams playing 40 games each and a few Cubs prospects participated. November and December saw Sergio Alcantara, Christopher Morel, and Narciso Crook each get a little bit of playing time in LIDOM.
Sergio Alcantara had some time with the Cubs last season mostly as a Shortstop and Second baseman. He registered a .970 fielding percentage in 388.1 innings at Shortstop and a .975 in 158.2 innings at Second. Although he offered solid middle infield defense, he struggled at the plate. Alcantara slashed .205/.303/.327 for an OPS of .630 which was below the league average.
Alcantara has played for Tigres del Licey this winter and improved his hitting compared to his MLB numbers in 2021. Tigres features Yermin Mercedes, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Soto, Ramon Laureano, and others. Sergio has played 2B and SS for Tigres. In 10 games at Second, he registered a 1.000 fielding percentage playing behind Texas Ranger Anderson Tejeda. At Shortstop behind Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio, Alcantara registered a fielding percentage of .896 in 13 games.
I mentioned Alcantara improving on hitting, he slashed .290/.419/.406 for an OPS of .825 in 86 plate appearances. He added one home run and six runs batted in in 18 games. He continued to show good plate discipline, drawing 16 walks to 12 strikeouts, a BB/K ratio of 1.33. If Alcantara can keep his average up, he offers a great backup to Madrigal or Hoerner at either of the two middle infield positions. Alcantara is the oldest of the three and only 25 years old means he could develop into a long-term player or a valuable trade asset in future years.
The Cubs signed former Reds minor league outfielder Narciso Crook in November. The 23rd round pick in 2013, Crook is coming off of a year slashing .245/.360/.448 with the AAA Louisville Bats. Crook hits for decent power as well, hitting 11 home runs in 86 games last season. He hit 10 home runs in the 2019 season as well but struggles with high strikeout numbers. 84 strikeouts in 84 games in 2019 and 77 strikeouts in 86 games last season is higher than you would like to see, but there is time to fix that hole.
Crook played for Tigres del Licey with Alcantara, but only got 5 plate appearances in 4 games. He went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI, including a stolen base and a strikeout. Last year with Louisville and double-AA Chattanooga, Crook played exclusively in right field, possibly perfect for filling in Heyward’s spot. He only committed two errors last season, Crook is one more prospect to keep an eye on heading towards Spring Training in Mesa.
The #20 prospect Christopher Morel has also been playing in LIDOM this winter. Following a year spent mostly with double-AA Tennessee where he hit .220 with an OPS of .732, Morel played with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Republic. Also on the team was Melky Cabrera, Johan Camargo, and ex-Cub Jose Quintana.
In 16 games, Morel slashed .265/.327/.347 for an OPS of .674. 14 strikeouts to four walks also did not demonstrate the plate discipline needed at the major league level. He has fielded well, recording a .962 fielding percentage at second in 100 innings with Aquilas, and still being only 22 years old he can improve at the plate in the minors.
Christopher Morel will be another one of many utility players to watch develop over the next few seasons. He can play all outfield positions as well as third and shortstop so if he can develop his bat, Morel will be a valuable asset for the major league roster.
The playoffs begin today with Aquilas Cibaenas playing Leones del Escogido. The winner will play the number one seed, Gigantes del Cibao. On the other side, Estrellas Orientales plays Tigres del Licey. The winner of the playoffs will advance to represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series, scheduled for January 28th through February 3rd. Last year, Aquilas Cibaenas won the whole Caribbean Series. MLB.TV offers a nice offseason package that can be used to watch LIDOM and the upcoming 2022 Spring Training season! Hopefully Sergio Alcantara and the other Cubs can carry their winter success into the next season.