Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kevin Barker: Two Dominican Championships in Two Years

Kevin Barker has been a very successful player in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) the last two seasons.  He is an anomaly that American fans would not expect to see in winter league action.
Kevin Barker (center-left) celebrates a second LIDOM championship
Barker is a 35 year old first basemen that has seen the major leagues in parts of five seasons, most recently with the Reds in 2009.  Add to that, he has played 12 years at the AAA level.  Yet he still chooses to go and play in Dominican Winter League action.  In fact, Barker says (according to lidom.com), "I played in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, United States, but the passion as you enjoy baseball in the Dominican Republic is unparalleled."

That quote shows a little as to why veterans would choose to play in the LIDOM.  Barker began his professional career in 1996 after being drafted out of Viginia Tech.  He made the big leagues for the first time in 1999 and has basically played at the AAA level ever since, other than short stints with major league clubs.  Last year, he played in the AAA Mexican League, which is an official MLB league, but the teams are not farm teams of big league clubs.

Barker just signed a minor league deal with the Nationals a few weeks ago, so hopefully we will see him in the big leagues again soon.  In the mean time, he has the Caribbean Series next week to worry about.

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