Import catcher Yunior Ibarra re-signs with Kitchener

KITCHENER - Yunior Ibarra will be back behind the dish as the Kitchener Panthers’ primary catcher this season.

Ibarra came to the IBL with much fanfare, touted as Cuba’s top defensive catcher and he didn’t disappoint in his first year in a Panthers uniform.

Behind the plate, he was a steady presence. He was credited with 278 putouts and 23 assists.

With the bat, he really picked up the pace after an appearance with his home country at the Caribbean and Central American Games in El Salvador.

Ibarra finished the regular season with a .270 batting average, knocking three home runs, 21 RBI and walked 13 times. In the playoffs, hit .308 and had a .406 on-base-percentage, helping the Panthers to the IBL semi-final.

Re-signing the elite Cuban catcher was considered “a priority” for Panthers general manager Mike Boehmer.

“Yunior Ibarra makes us a better defensive team, as well as improving our pitching staff,” he said. “Last season we worked hard on cutting down stolen bases against us, and Yunior was a big reason for our success in doing this. Yunior’s experience in handling many of Cuba’s top pitchers will no doubt help our two Cuban pitchers, as well as our Canadian pitchers.”

Ibarra threw out 51 per cent of runners trying to steal in his 10-year Cuban National Series career.

He has also represented his country at the Pan Am Games, the Premier 12 Tournament, the Caribbean Series and the Can Am League. 

“Ibarra was highly recommended by former Panthers and Team Cuba catcher Frank Camilo Morejon,” Boehmer added. “In addition to a strong throwing arm and a quick release, Ibarra is an excellent handler of pitchers and game calling. We feel that Yunior is one of the top catchers in the IBL and he has become a team leader.”

The Panthers begin its 105th IBL season at home to the Hamilton Cardinals on Thursday, May 16. Get your season tickets, FLEX packs or single-game tickets HERE.

PHOTO: Yunior Ibarra makes the tag at home to seal a victory over Welland in the 2023 IBL season. 

CREDIT: Dan Congdon Photography

Position: Catcher
Hometown: Sancti Spiritus, Cuba
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 185 lbs
Hits/Pitches: R/R
Birthdate: April 13, 1995
Pronunciation: Yoo-n-yur Eye-bear-uh