Padres News: Cuban Andy Ibanez on Padres radar?


We have all heard the names of Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera, but another young Cuban second baseman is also drawing a lot of interest from the San Diego Padres. Andy Ibanez is a 21-year old right-handed hitter who is known for his steady play, rather than his flashy tools. He will most surely not command the 40-50 million that Moncada is said to be asking.

The 5 foot 11 inch Ibanez defected from Cuba last October and reportedly worked out for the Seattle Mariners last week. The Mariners, Padres, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers have all reported interest in Ibanez.

Andy Ibanez is reportedly eager and ready to sign a contract with a major league team. He could sign immediately after the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes ends. A major league team would view him as an adequate yet cheaper alternative to Moncada. A definite under the radar type of pick-up.

Ibanez was a star for the island’s 16-and-under and 18-and-under national teams. As a 16-year-old he led the 16-and-under league with a .458 batting average and .703 slugging percentage. In the 18-and-under league in 2011 he hit .378 with 3 home runs, 23 walks and nine strikeouts in 138 at bats. He has shown excellent plate discipline, even at a young age.

Ibanez spent three seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional or Cuban baseball league. In 2012, at the age of 18 he won the leagues Gold Glove for a second baseman. He hit .278 that year with 3 homers and 36 rbi’s (295 atbats). Last season was his best performance offensively as he hit .267 with a .377 on base percentage. Only 28 strike outs in 280 at bats shows the plate discipline necessary to play in the majors. He was named to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, as Cuba’s youngest player on the roster. Another great accomplishment and a spectacular sign to his true baseball worth.

Andy Ibanez doesn’t really do anything spectacular. His speed is below average, his defense and arm average at best. Though reports indicate he just needs some proper conditioning. Ibanez does not have much power and the batting average is decent but not spectacular (so far at least). He is however very young and reports are that his baseball IQ is off the charts. That right there speaks volumes to what he can bring to a respected franchise.

A player like that with minimal tools, but has all the desire in the world, generally succeed at the pro level. He has been compared to the names of Howie Kendrick, Omar Infante and Placido Polanco. All very solid major league second baseman, but not the household names like Robinson Cano or Chase Utley. So don’t expect monumental numbers from this young kid once he arrives in the pros. Though at his young age all tools can surely be cultivated with Major League coaching.

Ibanez is considered almost major league ready, mostly due to his high baseball knowledge. In reality, he is probably a season or two away from contributing at the Major League level. Keep an eye on Yoan Moncada and once he signs, teams will be clamoring to get in on the next Cuban player. Ibanez is already drawing interest and most surely will be signed in a matter of weeks.

Rumors late Monday night have the Los Angeles Dodgers interested in Hector Olivera as a third baseman for this upcoming season. With Olivera, perhaps bound for Los Angeles and Moncada’s price tag climbing, don’t be surprised if Andy Ibanez is the Cuban infielder the Padres finally land. AJ Preller is known for his scouting, especially in the Latin American countries. He most surely is aware of Ibanez’s skill set. The Cuban invasion in the Major Leagues has been exciting and even more stars are on their way. Stay tuned.

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