There has been less public focus on 21-year-old second baseman Andy Ibanez, but teams are well aware that he’s the next top Cuban baseball sensation. He ranked as the No. 8 player still in Cuba in Baseball America’s rankings in August who will likely force a team to break its international bonus pool to sign him.
Yoan Moncada is getting the majority of the attention, certainly in the public eye when it comes to the Cuban market. Deservedly so. He’s a premium prospect that every team would love to add to their system.
The alternative to Yoan Moncada is now free to sign and that is Andy Ibanez (no relation to former Yankee playoff hero Raul Ibanez).
Ibanez, who turns 22 in April, left Cuba last fall and held open showcases for teams in December and January with a few private workouts mixed in. No word on which teams brought him in for a private workout, however. Here are Ibanez’s stats from the Cuban league before defecting, courtesy of Baseball Reference:
|2011||18||-8.7||Isla de la Juventud||88||321||36||82||18||2||3||36||2||4||11||53||.278||.309||.383||.692|
|2012||19||-8.7||Isla de la Juventud||80||330||37||87||29||0||4||29||6||5||27||38||.300||.361||.441||.802|
|2013||20||-8.6||Isla de la Juventud||74||280||33||62||13||4||6||32||6||5||33||28||.267||.377||.435||.812|
The New York Yankees are one of seven teams with interest in Ibanez.
When he was a teenager, Ibanez was one of the top players in the Cuban junior leagues while playing for Isla De La Juventud. As a 16-year-old in the country’s 16U national league in 2009, the righthanded-hitting Ibanez led the league in batting average (.458) and slugging (.703), drawing 19 walks with four strikeouts in 143 plate appearances. His 18 stolen bases (in 20 tries) tied for the league lead and his 13 doubles ranked second.
Ibanez went on to play for Cuba in the 16U World Championship that year in Taiwan, then the next year went to Thunder Bay in Canada to play in the 18U World Championship, where he was teammates with Jorge Soler and two of the other more promising players still in Cuba, Lourdes Gourriel and Guillermo Aviles.
In 2011, Ibanez was one of the top hitters in Cuba’s 18U circuit, batting .378/.493/.514 with three home runs, 23 walks (including 13 intentional walks, tied with Aviles for the league lead) and nine strikeouts in 138 plate appearances. He ranked eighth in both batting average and slugging, while his 14 steals (in 19 attempts) tied for second.
At 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, Ibanez has a thicker build for a middle infielder but he’s athletic and has good body control. With fringy speed and an average arm at best, Ibanez isn’t flashy, but he has a good internal clock and a high baseball IQ, fitting best at second base. Ibanez’s power is mostly to the gaps, projecting as a doubles hitters rather than a big home run threat, but what’s sold some scouts on him is his bat.
“He’s a strong guy who doesn’t have your prototype, ideal body for a second baseman, but he moves around well for his stature,” a scout said. “And he performs. He’s a good hitter. I liked his swing and the way he manipulated the bat.”
Ibanez won’t bring the potential star power that Moncada offers, but he’s still one of the top international players on the market for the Yankees.