The MLB season may have ended, but the baseball world goes on. As the Yankees and the 29 other teams prepare for 2022, there’s still baseball games taking place. The NPB and KBO seasons are nearing their conclusions, but the Caribbean winter leagues are just getting going.
The winter leagues are fun in that plenty of current and recently former MLB players go there every year to play in them. This year, Albert Pujols made some news by playing LIDOM, the Dominican winter league, for the first time. Pujols is probably the most famous player to be taking part this year, but there are several other notable names. Robinson Canó is among the other big names.
While those two are both very famous baseball players, on average, the MLB players that take part aren’t all on that level. In fact, there are a lot of randoms, and random former Yankees who are playing in the winter leagues this year. Let’s take a look at some of them.
On average, it seems like a large percentage of the MLB players that play in winter leagues play in LIDOM. Within that league, the largest concentration of Yankees are on the Águilas Cibaeñas. There you have two former Yankee outfielders in Melky Cabrera and Zoilo Almonte, two players whose Yankees’ teams had remarkably different levels of success despite their tenures being not that far apart. Their LIDOM years are following a similar trajectory, with Cabrera doing pretty well so far, and Almonte putting up an OPS under .500.
There’s another former Yankee Melky on the Gigantes del Cibao, where Melky Mesa has yet to record a hit at time of writing.
Current Yankee Albert Abreu has appeared in a couple games for the Tigres del Licey, but let’s hope he doesn’t pick up any bad habits from a former Yankee who has also pitching some innings there. Cesar Cabral — of an infamous outing where he hit three-straight batters, was ejected arguably for player safety reasons, and then immediately DFAed — is also there, and hasn’t hit anyone in his handful of innings so far.
In the Mexican Pacific Winter League Vidal Nuño, now apparently going by Vidal Nuño III, is playing for the Águilas de Mexicali, and in contrast to his Yankees’ tenure, has been fairly dominant so far.
Speaking of former Yankee pitcher, remember Manny Bañuelos? The former top Yankee prospect technically never donned a Bombers’ uniform, but did end up breaking through to the majors in 2015 with the Braves and then disappearing for four years until 2019 with the White Sox. He hasn’t played in the majors since then, but ManBan’s still going at it in Mexico with the Tomateros de Culiacán. His teammate is Ramiro Peña, who, uh, hasn’t been lighting things up at the plate
Also on the hitting end of things, 2013 Yankee alumnus Luis Cruz is on the Naranjeros de Hermosillo, a team with a very good mascot (head?). Cruz’s OPS this year is almost double what it was in his Yankee stint. Ah, 2013.
In Venezuela, 2019 Yankee Breyvic Valera is suiting up for the Bravos de Margarita. He hasn’t been great so far, but his teammate and fellow former Yankee Ramón Flores has racked up a OPS over 1.000 and is hitting over .400.
As you can probably deduce, most of the MLB players that play in this leagues tend to be from the country they go to play in. Not all though. Shane Greene has been playing in Venezuela for the Cardenales de Lara, struggling thus far.
If you follow Yankees’ prospects, there’s also some other names that pop up that might be familiar to you, but these former Yankees are the most “fun” among them. We hope you’ve enjoyed remembering some guys.