Andy Ibanez has long been considered one of the best offensive infielders in the Rangers’ system, but will he be given a shot in Arlington this season?
Last offseason, I wrote about his chances to make the Rangers roster at some point during the 2020 season, but that never came to fruition.
Today, I circle back around and highlight just how good of a bat Ibanez is and what he could bring to a new-look Texas Rangers lineup.
According to Baseball Reference, Ibanez began his professional career as a teenager with the Cuban national team, and he raked.
During the 2009 World Youth Championship, Ibanez hit .480/.606/.760 with 12 runs and 7 RBI in 7 first-round games.
He would go on to make his debut in the Cuba Serie Nacional in 2011-12, hitting .278/.309/.383 with 18 doubles for Isla de la Juventud.
Ibanez would also win a Gold Glove at second base with a .992 fielding percentage, and was selected to play for the Cuban team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Oh, and did I mention that he was just 18 when all of these accolades began to pile up.
The Texas Rangers would sign Ibanez for $1.6 million and he would not disappoint upon making his amateur debut.
He rose quickly through the Rangers farm system, and ended up being the fourth best second base prospect in all of baseball during the 2016, right behind Willie Calhoun.
The Havana, Cuba native has advanced quickly through the minors as a second baseman, but has spent time at both third base (157 games) and at shortstop (26).
His defensive versatility alone is enough to grab the attention of any major league club.
Not only is he versatile in the field, but he’s a decent defender as well.
It’s time for the Texas Rangers to give Andy Ibanez his chance.
Those skills pair nicely with his offensive makeup.
Over the course of his four minor league seasons, Ibanez is a .285 hitter with a .794 OPS.
He has accumulated just under 500 career hits in the minors, adding 53 long balls and driving in 215.
Of course, those numbers would only have increased had there been a 2020 minor league season.
His best season was in 2019, where he hit .300 with 20 homers and drove in 65 with Triple-A Nashville. He also sported a .871 OPS with the Sounds that year.
His minor league domination allowed him the chance to be at the Rangers alternate site during the 2020 season, but never ended up receiving the call.
Ibanez has also been compared to big leaguers such as recently retired Howie Kendrick and Adonis Garcia, older brother of former Texas Ranger Adolis Garcia.
His primary position at second has been blocked for a while now, but has another opportunity in major league camp to prove he should be in the big leagues, especially with a competition expected at third base.
Another good sign for Ibanez is that Chris Woodward loves his style of play, and believes he can become a force in the show.
"“As an organization, we value him, especially with the bat in his hand. He gives you a quality at-bat every time. He hits the ball hard, stays in the strike zone, has a ton of adjust-ability on every pitch. He handles everything, every type of pitch, every type of velo, every type of speed, spin, everything.” – Chris Woodward"
With the skipper’s approval, Andy Ibanez will have another chance to make it to Arlington in 2021.
He’s young, athletic and has been stashed away at the high levels of the Texas Rangers’ minor league system for years, and now is the time to give him his shot at the major leagues.