When the 2018 season began for Ibandel Isabel he was in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. The then 22-year-old was getting ready to return to Advanced-A to join the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for the second consecutive year. In 2017 he had hit 28 home runs in the hitter friendly California League.

For the first nine days of the regular season Ibandel Isabel was spending time traveling around California, spending time in Visalia, Stockton, Lancaster, and Rancho Cucamonga. On April 8th he hit his first home run of the year. In his six games from the 7th through the 16th he hit .238/.304/.476. But that was all he’d get because he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on the 17th, along with Zach Neal, for Ariel Hernandez. He joined the Daytona Tortugas on the 19th, going 0-2 with a walk. The next two days he went off, racking up four hits in each game, each with a double, and a home run on the 21st. He would slow down the final week of the month, though – homering once, but having just three hits the rest of the way. Between his two stops he hit .291/.371/.545 with three homers.

The first week of May saw Ibandel Isabel hit .300, but he only had one extra-base hit – a double – in six games. The first baseman went into a slump the the next week, going just 2-15, but both hits were home runs.  The slump continued the rest of the month, too. In the final two weeks of the month he added just three more hits, going 3-28 (.107). Two of those hits were home runs. May was the worst month of the season for the right-handed hitter. In 18 games he hit .175/.246/.397. He added four home runs, giving him seven for the year. But he racked up a lot of strikeouts, giving him 44 on the year in just 33 games.

Ibandel Isabel homered in the final game of May. He picked up things right where he left off when June began. From June 1st through June 8th he went out and racked up 12 hits – NINE of which were home runs – leading to a .375 average and a slugging percentage of 1.219. For as incredibly hot as he was in that stretch, he was almost as cold the rest of the way. In the final 14 games of the month he hit just .196, but did add two more home runs to give him 11 on the month. The incredible early stretch of the month helped him hit .269/.356/.692 in 23 games. He did rack up another 35 strikeouts with eight walks on the month.

After a long slump in June, Ibandel Isabel put that behind him in July. Over the first week he went 7-23 (.304) with five walks and two home runs. The slumping returned the next week, though, as he went just 3-20 (.150) without an extra-base hit. He picked things up the final two weeks, hitting .250 with four walks and four home runs. July would be a solid, but unspectacular month for the infielder. He hit .242 with a .321 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .442. His six home runs game him 24 on the month – and 23 in the Florida State League.

In the first two weeks of August, Ibandel Isabel went on another big run. In 11 games he went 19-45 (.422) with three doubles and seven home runs. That gave him 30 for the year in the league and put him within striking distance for the league record. Over the third week of the month the Tortugas slugger didn’t homer and hit just .083 (2-24).

On August 23rd he’d hit a solo home run to give him 31 in the Florida State League. On the 26th he hit another one to bring him within one of the league record with a week to go. The next night he tied the record with his 33rd homer of the season with Daytona. On the 28th he stood along in the record books, hitting two more home runs to give him 35 on the year in the league. After going hitless the next three games, he capped off the year by going 2-5. In the final five weeks he hit .292/.353/.679 with 12 home runs. But he also racked up another 42 strikeouts in 27 games played.

For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Ibandel Isabel Spray Chart

Ibandel Isabel Scouting Report

Hitting | Ibandel Isabel can and does use the entire field. And he can hit the ball hard to all parts of the field. But his hit tool is below-average, and his struggles to make contact don’t let it play to that level at times.

Power | This is where he shines. He’s got legit 80-grade power. He’s capable of hitting the ball out to any part of the field in any ballpark.

Speed | He’s a below-average runner.

Defense | He’s a below-average defender who can play first base, and in a pinch right field.

Arm | He’s got a solid arm.

Two things really stand out when you watch Ibandel Isabel: The incredible power and the high rate of strikeouts. His power will play anywhere and everywhere. The problem is whether he can make enough contact to actually allow it to play. In 2018 he struck out in 36.3% of his plate appearances. And that came against pitching in Advanced-A. Without improving his rate of contact, it’s very tough to see how that will play at higher levels.

The power is truly game changing. It’s among the best tools in the entire organization. He hit more home runs of at least 400+ feet in the 2018 season than any other Reds minor leaguer hit total home runs (21 400+ foot home runs for Isabel). With all of that said, it’s also one that may have trouble being used against more advanced pitching. You can dream on it, but you don’t have to squint hard to see where there will be problems getting to it.

Longest Home Run of the Year

452 feet on August 14th.

Interesting Stat on Ibandel Isabel

He went more than two months, spanning from May 21st through July 28th, without a double. He hit 18 home runs in that span.

9 Responses

  1. Greenfield Red

    He reminds me a little of Billy Hamilton. He has one awesome tool, but no other average tools to back it up. I think if he ever makes it to the majors, he will be just as frustrating to the fanbase. I hope I’m wrong.

    • NCRedsFan

      Probably even more frustrating actually. Billy had an arm, defense and speed. Strikeouts just seem to be one of the most infuriating things in the game though, because they always feel like they come at the worst time, at least the ones you remember.

    • Colorado Red

      35 HRs a year in never boring.
      Almost 900 OPS (if it stays), would still be great.
      Cannot have too many like that, but 1 would be fine.

    • Oldtimer

      Hamilton has more than one tool. Tremendous defense. Great speed. Ability to score runs nearly 50% of the time he gets on base.

  2. SteveLV

    Happy New Year, Doug. Thanks for making each year more enjoyable for all of us. Hope 2019 is a great year for you.

  3. The Duke

    I wonder if they have tried to get him to shorten up his swing. He can sacrifice some power for hit and still have enough juice to get the ball out of the yard.

    • Cbus

      Is it big swing or pitch recognition that is his problem? Or a little of both? In general I’m guessing big swing is easier to fix but I wonder if scouts think about this difference and rank accordingly.

  4. RedsinWashst

    Come on you guys it will be fun just watching him in batting practice. You know the Reds are going to try to change something. 2A here he comes hoping he can get his strikeout rate to 25%.

  5. RObnasty

    I get this kid is not a slam dunk prospect, but we gave up little to get him! FURTHermore, he has one elite tool, and it is a tool the Reds don’t have in spades at the moment, I think it is hard to say he is not a top 25-30 prospect, & comparing him to Billy Hamilton is not a good comparison. Billy’s best tool, his speed is one of the lower valued tools. The league is full of guys who hit .210-.235 & hit 25-35bombs a year. That’s not a good thing, but it tells me their may be a place for him. WISH WE HAD THE DH!!! Haha