Coming off of a record breaking season that saw Ibandel Isabel set the Florida State League record for home runs in a season with 35, the Reds sent the power hitting prospect to Double-A. He would join the new affiliate in Chattanooga and continue doing what he’s done for most of his career.

The season began on April 4th for Ibandel Isabel and the Chattanooga Lookouts. Over the first 16 games he was hitting .228/.297/.439 and had three home runs. Solid showing in the power department, but he hadn’t really gotten things going yet. Then in the final week of April he went off. In the last six games of the month he would hit four home runs to go along with hitting .360 to really turn around the month, where he posted an .895 OPS in 22 games.

He would keep hitting in the first week of May, racking up hits in six of his seven games played, but he would then go into a slump for the remaining 20 games in the month. The first baseman would hit just .157/.224/.457 the rest of the way. He would hit home runs in five straight games from the 20th through the 25th, showing off the power he is known for. But he also struck out 47 times in 106 plate appearances in the month, also showing off the struggles he has with making contact at times.

June began with three games that saw Ibandel Isabel go 1-11 with two walks, but he would then hit the injured list for two-and-a-half weeks. When he returned on June 20th he would make up for the lost time. He ran off a 10-game hitting streak, and in the 11 games until the month ended he would hit .341/.383/.750 with five home runs. That pushed his season total to 19 homers in just 63 games played.

July began and saw Isabel initially continue where he left off the previous month. He went 2-5 with a home run in the first game of the month, but he went into a slump after that for the next two weeks. He would hit three homers in the next 11 games, but only had two other hits – both singles – as he hit just .128 with 22 strikeouts in 41 plate appearances in that stretch. The second half of July was a bit different. He had begun to see some action in right field by this point in the year, and in the final 10 games of the month had just 12 strikeouts. That came without much power, but he hit .313 in that stretch.

The first week of August would also be the last week of the season for Ibandel Isabel. He would hit .304 and hit two more home runs, giving him 26 on the season. That would be more than enough to lead the league in home runs despite playing in just 91 games on the season. On August 10th he was placed on the injured list with patellar tendonitis. He didn’t return for the final three weeks of the year.

For all 2019 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

Position: First Base | B/T: R/R

Height: 6′ 4″ | Weight: 225 lbs | Signed: April 2013 (Dodgers)

Born: June 20, 1995 in Yaguate, Dominican Republic

Hitting | The hit-tool for Ibandel Isabel is below-average. It’s compounded by his inability to make consistent contact.

Power | He had top of the spectrum power. It’s 80-grade power.

Running | He’s got below-average speed.

Defense | He’s a slightly below-average defender at first. He can play right field in a pinch if needed.

The story has been much the same with Ibandel Isabel for a while now. His power is nearly unmatched. And he struggles mightily to make contact. The power will play at any level…. when he makes contact. It’s the lack of contact that keeps him on the outside looking in when it comes to confidence in future Major Leaguer circles. He struck out in 41.6% of his plate appearances this season. To put that in perspective, if he had 600 plate appearances that would come out to 250 strikeouts.

There’s always the ability to dream on the power being able to play enough to make it work. Joey Gallo has struck out between 36 and 38% of the time in each of the last three years and been a valuable player in Texas. But he’s been able to counter a high strikeout rate with a very high walk rate – higher than Isabel has ever shown in the minors – to go along with elite levels of power. He’s going to need to either cut down on the strikeouts by quite a bit, or increase his walk rate by quite a bit to make a Gallo-like season work.

Longest Home Run of the Year

455 Feet on June 22nd.

Interesting Stat on Ibandel Isabel

This offseason I’ve already shared some incredible stats on Ibandel Isabel. Like the fact that he hit 20 home runs 400+ feet this year, while only two other players in the league even hit 20 total home runs (and they hit 21). Or that his home runs per fly ball rate was literally more than twice as high as the next best rate in the Southern League this year.

So today let’s talk about his splits. His strikeout rate against lefties was 35%. That’s still significantly higher than you’d like to see. But his strikeout rate against righties was 44% this season.

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3 Responses

  1. Oldtimer

    Don’t know how old he is or if he can play other than 1B (maybe DH someday) but if he keeps hitting HR at higher levels of MiLB, there will probably be a place for him in MLB someday. The modern game is mostly about HR and BB (OBP) = scoring runs.

  2. MK

    This Strike Out or Home Run era of baseball might be here at the correct time for him. With the AAA ball he might hit 60 next year while striking out 200 times. Think he will need to be placed on the 40-man or they are sure to lose him. If Votto does not show a rebound in performance Ibandel might get his feet on the ground as a platoon in 2021 and probably the DH will be around after that. The Ibandel, the Clementina, or Marinan/Zabala trade might end up being the best of the Dodger trades.

  3. rhayex

    Having empty power is almost as bad as having an empty OBP (with no other skills) in the minors, but twice as seductive to many front offices. There’s always the thought that if they can make *one small tweak* they’ll be able to unlock more contact in a player.

    I know there was a study done a while ago that showed that something like 99% of players’ “eyes” had fully matured after 6 or 7 years of baseball at a professional level (less for guys drafted who had been playing their entire lives). Isabel is quite a ways past that. I think he’ll need to get his BB% at or above 10% (which he’s only done once in his career — 2016 in rookie ball in 132 plate appearances) as well as his K% at or below 30% (which he’s also only done once in his career — same season + level) to be a successful big leaguer.

    That’s a pretty tall order for someone who also struggles to make contact on pitches, which will make it tough to get to his power consistently against the best and most deceptive pitchers. I think perhaps the Reds should see if they can sell high on his talents and potential a la Tanner Rainey and see if they can pick up some useful part for him this season. If they do it, there’s always a chance he somehow figures it all out and becomes a star, but I highly doubt it.