If you were to rank all of San Diego’s prospects entering the year, Jeff Ibarra would be pretty close to the bottom. He’s a 22-year-old lefty reliever who posted a 3.80 ERA in short-season ball last year after being picked in the 23rd round.
I know, exciting profile there, isn’t it!
The Padres realized Ibarra projected to be nowhere near a big league player, so this spring, they did an overhaul of him.
They moved Ibarra to the extreme first base side of the pitching rubber and worked with him on lowering his arm angle to sidearm. The hope is that he can become a bigtime lefty specialist.
Ibarra stayed behind in extended spring to work on repeating the low arm slot, and was finally shipped out to Fort Wayne in late April after indy league signee Matt Irsfeld was a disaster there.
Nine games and 8 2/3 innings, the results are in–Ibarra’s new arm angle is dynamite.
He’s already struck out 13, walked just one, and allowed no homers.
Of course, he’s still just a 22-year-old in Low-A, but Ibarra’s now a player to watch instead of a nobody. It’s an admirable and creative bit of player development, and it’s good to see.