The playoffs are just about to the midway point in the Caribbean, but Major League Baseball fans may be more interested in how their teams' regulars and prospects are faring.
The first round of the Mexican Pacific League playoffs is in the books, with former Major Leaguer Carlos Rivera tearing things up with a .500 batting average. In Venezuela, Giants catcher Eliezer Alfonzo has been crushing the ball through nine games for the struggling Caribes, while cousin Edgardo Alfonzo continues to make a case for a role with the Rangers when Spring Training opens. Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez, meanwhile, has been in midseason form.
Aguilas and the Tigres lead the Dominican Winter League round-robin playoffs with eight wins apiece, but there are plenty of big names coming up big in the big-league laden circuit. Cubs right-hander Carlos Marmol has been nearly unhittable for Licey, while Tigers reliever Denny Bautista has 19 strikeouts in 13 innings. Offensively, Royals outfielder Jose Guillen has 10 RBIs in only 12 games.
Most of the playoff scenarios should be cleared up by Jan. 20, making this a huge week for teams on the bubble of elimination. Here's the status heading into Monday's action:
Mexican Pacific League
Mazatlan and Culiacan breezed through their first-round series. The Venados advanced to the semifinals with four straight wins against Guasave, the last coming on Jan. 6. The Tomateros knocked off Navajoa, 10-8, on Jan. 7 behind Sergio Lizarraga. Culiacan won its series in five games, handing Mario Gonzalez his first playoff loss in Game 5.
Obregon squeaked by Mochis, 1-0, to win its series, 4-2. Rockies farmhand Dan Serafini earned his second playoff win and has allowed two runs over 12 1/3 innings while striking out three. Arturo Lopez took the loss, his second in the opening round.
Despite its first-round defeat, Mochis advanced as the "Lucky Loser" and faces Mazatlan in the semifinals, which began Jan. 12. Obregon and Andres Meza defeated Culiacan, 8-3, in Game 1, while Mochis blanked Mazatlan, 3-0, behind Alberto Castillo-Betancourt.
Carlos Rivera: The former Major Leaguer has been red-hot for Obregon. After hitting .410 to win the Mexican League batting title over the summer, Rivera carried the Yaquis into the semifinals as one of only two players to hit over .265. He homered twice, drove in seven runs and hit .500 in seven games, while most of his teammates batted under .200.
Justin Lehr, Cincinnati: The 30-year-old right-hander struck out seven and allowed just one earned run over 13 2/3 innings. Lehr was 1-0 with an 0.66 ERA in two starts.
Joakim Soria, Kansas City: The Royals closer struck out five, earned two saves and did not allow a run in 3 2/3 innings.
Dionys Cesar: Cesar drove in two runs, scored five times and hit .346 to help Mochis advance as the "Lucky Loser."
Alberto Castillo-Betancourt: The Caneros left-hander went 1-1 in three starts, allowing three runs over 16 frames. Castillo-Betancourt struck out eight to lead the staff.
Benji Gil: The Major League journeyman led the Tomateros with seven RBIs and batted .348 in six games.
Reggie Taylor: The former big leaguer hit .286 with three homers, six RBIs and seven runs scored in six contests.
Rolando Valdez, San Diego: The Culiacan right-hander struck out four and allowed five hits over seven scoreless innings in his lone start, a win.
Derrick White: The Venados slugger batted .353, drove in two runs and scored three times in five games.
Gabe DeHoyos, San Diego: The Mazatlan reliever picked up a win and two saves in four games, fanning six over 4 1/3 innings.
Venezuelan Winter League
Midway through round-robin action, Lara and Aragua have established themselves as the top teams. The Cardenales won three in a row entering Monday's action and lead the circuit with a 7-2 record; Aragua is just a game off the pace after winning four straight.
Undefeated at home, Lara posted a 5-3 win over Aragua on the first day of action on Jan. 6 behind Dodgers veteran Giovanni Carrara. The Cardenales recorded back-to-back victories over the Caribes, knocking them off, 5-2, on Jan. 4 behind big-league journeyman Geremi Gonzalez and 3-2 on Jan. 5 behind Marlins farmhand Rich Dorman. Lara outslugged Aragua, 10-9, on Jan. 7 before sweeping a doubleheader from Margarita on Friday.
Aragua dropped its first two games before edging La Guaira, 4-3, on Jan. 4. The Tigres earned wins over Lara and La Guaira before a 10-5 victory over the Caribes on Saturday vaulted them into second place.
The Tiburones (3-5), Bravos (3-6) and Caribes (3-6) need to bounce back this week. Margarita, loser of four of six home games, has dropped four straight overall, while La Guaira has suffered consecutive home defeats.
Frank Diaz, Washington: The Nationals outfield prospect homered twice and drove in six runs while hit .351 in nine games for the Bravos.
Rene Reyes: The Bravos outfielder batted .448 with a homer and seven RBIs in eight games.
Marco Scutaro, Toronto: He collected 13 hits and three runs scored while batting .342 in nine games for the Cardenals. Rich Dorman, Florida: The journeyman right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two starts for Lara. Dorman, who split the summer between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Albuquerque, struck out 11 and allowed two runs over 10 2/3 innings.
Andrew Lorraine: The veteran southpaw walked just one batter over 10 2/3 scoreless innings in two starts for the Cardenales.
Juan Rincon: The Twins reliever claimed a win and three saves in six appearances for Lara, striking out eight over 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
Eliezer Alfonzo, San Francisco: The 28-year-old backstop collected five home runs and 12 RBIs in nine games for the Caribes, hitting .303. Hoping to catch on with San Francisco in Spring Training, Alfonzo may be the hottest hitter in Venezuela.
Alex Cabrera: The veteran first baseman homered twice, drove in six runs, scored five times and batted .344 in eight games for the Tiburones.
Oscar Salazar, Baltimore: The Orioles infield prospect batted .250 in eight games but led La Guaira with three homers and eight RBIs.
Juan Gutierrez, Arizona: The Diamondbacks farmhand struck out 11 batters in 12 innings, yielding one run on six hits. He went 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts for the Tiburones.
Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels: K-Rod dominated in three relief appearances, picking up two saves and fanning seven over 3 1/3 scoreless frames.
Edgardo Alfonzo, Texas: His cousin is on fire for the Caribes, but the former big-league infielder also has put up lofty numbers. He hit .361 with a homer, six RBIs and four runs scored in nine games for Aragua.
Alberto Callaspo, Kansas City: The Royals outfielder batted .487 with four doubles, a triple and eight RBIs in nine games for the Tigres.
Cory Bailey, Chicago Cubs: The veteran right-hander struck out four and allowed one run over 10 1/3 innings in two starts for Aragua.
Bobby Korecky, Minnesota: The Twins reliever tossed seven shutout innings over five appearances for the Tigres, allowing only two hits and striking out five.
Dominican Winter League
A clear cut favorite has yet to emerge through two weeks of round-robin action in the Dominican Republic. Both Cibaenas and Licey are 8-6 overall and 5-2 at home, while Oriente has lost four straight to fall to 7-7. Cibao (5-9) has lost six of seven at home.
The Tigres went 4-2 last week and moved into good position with four round-robin games remaining. Licey picked up two victories over the Gigantes and two more over the Estrellas, highlighted by a 13-5 romp over Oriente on Thursday.
Aguilas won four of five last week, including a pair of victories over Cibao, a 6-1 silencing of Oriente on Jan. 7 and a 6-2 triumph over Licey on Friday.
Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs: The 25-year-old right-hander has been untouchable in the playoffs for Licey. He's given up just one hit over seven shutout innings, striking out 11 in recording a win and a save in six relief appearances.
Mendy Lopez: The former Major League infielder struck out 14 times, but he led the team with two homers, nine RBIs and 11 hits in 13 games.
Juan Feliciano: The 27-year-old right-hander struck out 13 over 10 innings, yielding two runs in three relief appearances for the Aguilas.
Nelson Figueroa: The Brooklyn, N.Y., native struck out 13 over seven innings for Cibaenas, allowing one run in winning his only start.
Derek Lee, Texas: Lee, who spent the summer at Triple-A Oklahoma, went 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA in three starts for the Aguilas. He fanned nine and surrendered four runs over 17 2/3 innings.
Arnie Munoz, Washington: The veteran southpaw was 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA and nine strikeouts in eight relief appearances for Cibaenas.
Henry Mateo, Detroit: Mateo hit .432 with a home run and seven RBIs in 14 games for Oriente.
Denny Bautista, Detroit: The big right-hander may be the hottest pitcher in the league. He's struck out 19 batters over 13 2/3 innings, although his 1-2 record does not reflect how well he's pitched out of the Oriente bullpen. Bautista allowed four runs and earned a save in seven relief appearances.
Francisco Rosario, Philadelphia: Rosario struck out 14 over 15 innings for the Estrellas, allowing four runs on 18 hits. The 27-year-old right-hander went 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three starts.
Nelson Cruz, Texas: Cruz homered twice, drove in a team-best eight runs and is hitting .354 in 14 playoff games for Cibao. He's bounced back well in the Dominican after batting .235 in the Majors last season.
Alfredo Simon, Texas: Simon had a 6.43 ERA for Triple-A Oklahoma last summer but looks back on track through three playoff starts for the Gigantes. He is 1-0 with a 2.30 ERA and nine strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings.
Emilio Bonifacio, Arionza: The switch-hitting infielder is batting .358 with a home run and nine RBIs in 13 postseason games for Licey. He also leads the team with 13 strikeouts.
Jose Guillen, Kansas City: The Royals' offseason addition is hitting .324 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 12 playoff games for Licey.
Jose Offerman: The 39-year-old former Major League All-Star is batting .323 with a homer and nine RBIs in nine games for Licey. Offerman has struck out just once in 31 at-bats.
Jose Mercedes: The former Major Leaguer is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in three starts for the Tigres. Mercedes has allowed two runs while striking out seven over 16 frames.
Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.