Today we’re going to take a look at another prospect of the Cincinnati Reds that I believe could have a bit of a breakout kind of season in front of them. Last week we kicked things off by looking at why catcher Daniel Vellojin could break out in 2023. Today we’re going to look at why first baseman Ruben Ibarra could take that next step forward and potentially break through in 2023.
The 2022 season was mostly just a half-season for Ruben Ibarra. He started out slow in April with Single-A Daytona, hitting .171/.244/.200 in 19 games. But he turned things around quickly when the calendar flipped Over the next 12 weeks he hit .339/.432/.619 between Daytona and a mid-June promotion to High-A Dayton. Ibarra went into a bit of a slump in July, though, hitting just .108 in 12 games from the 2nd through the 23rd. But after hitting a home run in the 4th inning of the game on the 23rd, Ibarra suffered an injury in the top of the 5th after a wide throw pulled him into the baseline and the runner collided with his glove hand. The thumb injury suffered on the play would cost him the rest of the year.
Ruben Ibarra’s slow start in April led to his overall numbers not looking as good as the rest of his season did. The injury cut his rebound short, too. Things were trending in the right direction and that big time power that Ibarra has was really starting to show up in games.
Looking at some of the underlying statistics for Ibarra there are things to like. His strikeout rate in Dayton was lower than it was in Daytona, though his walk rate was also a little bit lower, too. He showed good power overall, but there’s plenty more to tap into. While in Dayton his BABIP was just .200 – it should be expected to be much higher than that moving forward.
While the data from his time in Dayton isn’t public, we did get data for his time in road games with Daytona where Hawkeye is installed in all of the ballparks in the Florida State League. Limited sample size and all of that, but Ibarra had an average exit velocity of 94.8 MPH and his top exit velocity was 113.1 MPH.
Before the month of April is over, Ibarra will be 24-years-old. He’s not going to be considered young for any level he reaches this year in the minor leagues. When it comes to prospect rankings and such that will work against him. But despite that, he’s got some interesting things in his game that could still lead to him breaking out even if he is “old” for where he’s playing at. His power is unquestioned. He’s more athletic than you’d think simply by reading the profile. Health hasn’t worked in his favor much in his limited time as a pro and he hasn’t quite had a chance to truly get things going since being drafted. If he’s healthy for a full season this year it could be interesting to see what happens.
Ibarra is one of my favorite Reds prospects since he’s been drafted. Not sure why, but he just seems fun and an easy player to root for. Hope he rebounds well from his injury and can reach a AA promotion this year.
Really pretty agile for a big man. I would expect him to start in Dayton and share time with Triana at first base and DH. One of his big obstacles will be conditioning for the rest of his career.
That’s also my biggest obstacle. And I’m failing.
Yes, pushing that much weight can lead to knee and back problems, that’s for sure.