Caribbean Series won by Dominican Republic
Mets' Martinez named tournament's Most Valuable Player
MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela -- The pulsing sounds of merengue overpowered the concourse, and fireworks lit up the sky above center field on a clear night at Estado Nueva Esparta.
On the ground, the Reds' Juan Francisco and Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez celebrated, illuminating the field just as they had all week with their play during this year's Caribbean Series.
On Sunday the dynamic duo capped a fine six-day tournament by leading the Escogido squad to a 7-4 victory over Venezuela's Leones del Caracas in the finale to seal the 2010 title for the Dominican Republic.
On Monday they'll start thinking about Spring Training, but for now they'll celebrate -- first in the middle of the infield with their teammates, and later with their families.
"This is very emotional," Martinez, 21, said. "To be able to contribute to the Dominican Republic team is something you dream about as a child. This is a wonderful feeling. I don't have the words."
The Dominican Republic finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, and Puerto Rico's Mayaguez team placed second, with a 4-2 mark. Mexico's Hermosillo squad finished 2-4, and Venezuela went 1-5.
Caribbean Series 2010 All-Tournament Team
|Player, position, team|
|Kevin Barker, 1B, Dominican Republic|
|Pablo Ozuna, 2B, Dominican Republic|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B, Mexico|
|Angel Sanchez, SS, Puerto Rico|
|Armando Rios, RF, Puerto Rico|
|Jesus Feliciano, CF, Puerto Rico|
|Fernando Martinez, LF, Dominican Republic|
|Edwards Guzman, C, Puerto Rico|
|Raul Padron, DH, Venezuela|
|Raul Valdes, LHP, Dominican Republic|
|Nelson Figueroa, RHP, Dominican Republic|
|Efrain Nieves, LH reliever, Puerto Rico|
|Peter Parise, RH reliever, Puerto Rico|
Martinez was named the series MVP after hitting .348 with two home runs and four RBIs. He will now head to Port St. Lucie, Fla., to compete for a spot in a Mets outfield already loaded with Jason Bay in left field, Gary Matthews and Angel Pagan in center, and Jeff Francoeur in right.
He has his work cut out for him. In 29 games for the Mets last season, he hit .176 with one home run and eight RBIs. He's likely headed to Triple-A Buffalo for another year of seasoning.
But he wasn't thinking about the Mets on Sunday night.
"We won as a team," he said. "That's the most important part of this experience. We did it together."
Francisco, 22, will be a prospect to watch this spring in Goodyear, Ariz. Last season he hit .429 in 14 games for the Reds and .295 with 27 home runs and 93 RBIs in 131 games combined at Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville. The infielder played left field during the Winter League and is blocked on the big league club by Scott Rolen.
He hit .261 with six RBIs during the series.
"Everybody knows that the more you play the game, the more you are prepared," Francisco said. "I've learned a lot in this experience. I know it's going to help me."
The victory marked the 18th Caribbean Series championship for Dominican Republic and the third for Escogido. A team from the island nation last won the title in 2008, when two of the four teams were from the Dominican. Puerto Rico did not participate in the tournament two years ago in Santiago, D.R., because of problems with the league.
Escogido last won a Caribbean Series title in 1990, when it was managed by Felipe Alou, the father of current first-year general manager Moises Alou.
"I kind of feel like I should retire now," Moises Alou joked. "It's my first year, and we win the Caribbean Series. You can't beat that. Anything after that will be a letdown."
Alou wasn't the only man feeling giddy. Add "manager of a Caribbean Series champion" to Ken Oberkfell's resume.
Oberkfell, the manager of the Mets affiliate in Buffalo, took the job because he thought it would help him become a Major League manager one day, but he said the experience turned out to be much more rewarding.
"This was a lot of fun," Oberkfell said. "It's been a great experience, because I really didn't realize how passionate the fans are about the game of baseball. It was an honor to do this, and I'm happy to be able to bring a championship to the Dominican."
Detroit shortstop Ramon Santiago finished with a .316 batting average, and Philadelphia outfielder Freddy Guzman went 0-for-4 with one run scored on Sunday. Guzman was named to the All-Tournament team along with teammates Pablo Ozuna, Kevin Barker and Nelson Figueroa.
"You have to give credit to the players," Alou said. "They did all the work. The coaches worked very hard. They deserve all the praise."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.