NOVEMBER 18: Ibanez is in the Dominican Republic, sources tell Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter links). There is still no timetable for a showcase, per McDaniel, who says that Ibanez appears to have arrived in the D.R. within the last week. It appears, however, that Ibanez is at least now set to begin the process of making himself available to be signed by MLB clubs.
OCTOBER 27: Andy Ibanez, a 21-year-old second baseman, has left Cuba in pursuit of a Major League contract, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports. The 5’10”, 183-pound, right-handed hitting Ibanez is believed to have left Cuba sometime before September 21, which was the start of the Serie Nacional season.
Baseball America recently ranked Ibanez eighth on their list of the best prospects still in Cuba, with Badler writing that Ibanez “doesn’t have any premium tools or star upside, but his value lies in being steady in all phases while playing in the middle of the diamond.” He posted a .267/.377/.435 line over 280 PA last season and won a Gold Glove in his 2011-12 rookie year. Badler figures that Ibanez would start his Major League career at high-A or Double-A ball.
Since Ibanez has only three seasons of experience in Serie Nacional, he’ll be subject to the 2014-15 international bonus pools. If Ibanez can get cleared to sign before the 2014-15 signing period ends on June 15, Badler thinks this could give the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays an advantage in signing him since those clubs have already exceeded their pool limits (and thus they don’t have to worry about spending more on new signings). Those overages will prevent the three teams from signing any bonus pool-eligible players for the next two years, however, so the AL East trio will be out of the running for Ibanez if he isn’t a free agent by that June 15 date.