The Dominican Winter League kicked off their 2021/2022 season on Wednesday night. All six teams in the league were on the schedule. Only four Cincinnati Reds players were on the opening night rosters, and only Francisco Urbaez got on the field. He started at second base and was hitting second in the Escogido lineup as they faced off against Licey.
A year ago at this time, Francisco Urbaez had not yet seen a single pitch as a professional baseball player. Undrafted in the 5-round 2020 draft, he signed on with the Reds as a free agent. He began the year in High-A Dayton, where he saw most of his 2021 game action, but also saw time in both Double-A and Triple-A in the second half where he played in 14 games for both the Chattanooga Lookouts and Louisville Bats. Between the three stops he hit .302/.390/.414 with 41 walks and 57 strikeouts in 95 games. Particularly with Dayton he was a hit machine.
On Opening Night he was a hit machine once again. The first pitch he saw was lined back up the middle for a single. In his second plate appearance of the night he would work a walk. In his third trip to the plate he lines a single over the 1st baseman and into right field for another single. For his final plate appearance of the night he would draw another walk. Escogido lost 4-1 on the night. Francisco Urbaez scored the only run of the game for the Lions, and he accounted for two of their six hits, and two of their three walks.
Narciso Crook and Michael De Leon were in the opposing dugout. They didn’t play on Wednesday night for Licey, but are on the Tigers roster again this season. Reliever Hector Perez is also on the Licey roster. Like Crook and De Leon, he did not participate in the game on Wednesday night. Starting pitcher Reiver Sanmartin is on the Eastern Stars.