While keeping track of the various rumors involving Yoan Moncada, Hector Olivera and Yadier Alvarez, there is another Cuban to keep an eye on in second baseman Andy Ibanez.
The 21-year-old infielder is listed by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com as someone in whom the Dodgers are interested, even listing them among the most likely destinations for Ibanez along with the Yankees and Padres.
The right-handed Ibanez hit .283/.348/.419 with 60 doubles and 13 home runs in 242 games over three years for Isla de la Juventud in 2011-2014 in La Serie Nacional, Cuba's professional league. He left Cuba sometime before last October, and was rated by Baseball America last year as the eighth-best prospect in La Serie Nacional, with Olivera ranking sixth.
Ibanez was on Cuba's roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic at age 20, though he only appeared in five games and got just one plate appearance. His other international experience includes the 16-and-under world championship in Taiwan in 2009, the 18-and-under world championship in Canada in 2010, and the 2013 World Port Tournament in the Netherlands, per Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Here is video from Baseball America of Ibanez making a few plays at second base.
Plus another video of Ibanez hitting a double for the Toronjeros de Isla de la Juventud in 2012.
Sanchez notes that Ibanez is considered "a gamer" by some, and mentions Howie Kendrick as a potential comp for his major league future, which is convenient since Kendrick is under contract to the Dodgers for just one year. Though Badler estimates Ibanez would start in either advanced Class-A or Double-A.
"He’s a strong guy who doesn’t have your prototype, ideal body for a second baseman, but he moves around well for his stature," a scout told Badler about Ibanez. "And he performs. He’s a good hitter. I liked his swing and the way he manipulated the bat."
Ibanez, like Moncada and Alvarez, is subject to international bonus pool limits, so signing him would mean a 100-percent tax on effectively his entire signing bonus.
The Dodgers have been linked to just about every high-end Cuban player, and it makes sense given their vast financial resources for the team to sign multiple impact amateurs during this signing period, given the restriction of not being able to sign an international amateur to a bonus higher than $300,000 in the next two signing periods should they sign even one of these rumored players.
There is a bit of plate spinning going on here, with negotiations happening on multiple fronts and involving multiple teams. Thinking Ibanez might be a fallback for Moncada could mean losing out on one or both. Moncada reportedly could decide by next week, though Sanchez notes, "there's the notion [Ibanez] could sign before Moncada because some teams consider him a less expensive alternative and want to get him into camp for spring training."
Then there is the consideration of signing both Moncada and Ibanez, even though the primary position for both is second base. And don't forget about Olivera, who likely projects as a third baseman. With infielders Juan Uribe, Jimmy Rollins and Kendrick all eligible for free agency after 2015, the Dodgers do have plenty of openings in the infield. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how many Cubans will join Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez by 2016.