With their fourth round selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Reds selected Ruben Ibarra, a first baseman from San Jose State. He was the only first baseman they selected this year.
The first thing that somebody would notice about Ibarra is his size. He stands at an impressive 6-foot-5 and weighs about 290 pounds. He is impossible to miss. His frame is filled out incredibly well as he is as strong as one would expect him to be. After finishing his junior season, Ibarra has quite an impressive career to look back on.
Immense Power and Sneaky Athleticism
As one would be able to predict by knowing his size, Ibarra has incredible power. He has always terrorized opposing pitchers with his bat. Ibarra was known for his tape measure home runs during his three year stint at San Jose State.
While Ibarra has always been known for his size and strength, but what some people don’t realize is how athletic and agile he really is. He flashed an incredible glove on defense, leading the SJSU Spartans in fielding percentage last year(.996).
Now, Ibarra is never going to steal too many bases or change the game with his legs too much. But, he was very adamant that he wanted to be more than just a designated hitter. He wants the ball in his hand. He wants to play the field. The Reds will give him that opportunity. His athleticism will make that possible.
As a freshman, Ibarra received less than 50 total at bats. During his sophomore season, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, shortening that season down. In his 61 at bats that season, he was hitting over .300 with eight extra base hits and a near .500 OBP.
But, everything got ridiculous during his full length junior season. As a junior, he slashed .381/.503/.850. That means he had an OPS over 1.300. An OPS that high would rank him top 10 in the MLB. Ever. Only behind the likes of Josh Gibson(1937,1943), Charlie Smith(1929), Babe Ruth(1920,1921), and Barry Bonds(2001,2002,2004). Those are some impressive names to be attributed with.
Along with those numbers, Ibarra slugged 14 home runs, nine doubles and a triple in just 113 at bats. He also drew more walks than he suffered strikeouts, which is extremely rare in todays game of baseball(28 BB to 24 K)
Ibarra was selected into the National League, meaning he will be a first baseman, for the time being. There are rumors that the DH could be coming to the National League though, which would expand his position on the team a bit. As a fielder, he will play first base and there really isn’t anywhere else for him to go. If the DH is implemented into the NL, he could very well be moved to a DH depending on how his glove translates to pro ball.
All in all, Ibarra is a great prospect. He shows positive flashes in every aspect of the game. The only question mark is the lack of upper level competition that he has played. Ibarra looks to eliminate those question marks as he continues to play for the Reds Low-A affiliate, the Daytona Tortugas.
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