Panthers Sign Top Cuban Catcher
The Kitchener Panthers are excited to announce the signing of catcher, Yunior Ibarra (Sancti Spiritus, Cuba), for the 2023 season.
The 28 year old catcher has played in 10 Cuban National Series seasons, all for his hometown of Sancti Spiritus where has been a teammate of former Cuban Panther Yuen Socarres. He is coming off of his best offensive season to date where he hit .303 in 77 games played in 2022.
It is on the defensive side of things where Yunior has made his biggest impact as his impressive ability to handle a pitching staff and control the run game with his arm has earned himself the reputation of being Cuba’s top defensive catcher.
The move to go out and add an elite defensive catcher is a “two birds with one stone” move by Panthers General Manager, Mike Boehmer. Not only will he make the Panthers a significantly better defensive team, his presence will also help to improve the pitching staff as a whole; something which was a main focus of Boehmer’s this offseason. Ibarra’s significant experience handling Cuba’s top arms will help to get the most out of the Panthers pitching staff and will also give the two incoming Cuban starting pitchers a battery mate which they have some familiarity with.
During Yunior’s Cuban National Series career, he has thrown out an outstanding 51% of runners attempting to steal a base, having caught 83 runners and only allowed 80 to successfully steal. As a team, the Panthers allowed far too many stolen bases in 2022 and Yunior’s presence should help to alleviate the issue.
On top of a successful National Series career to date, Yunior has plenty of experience representing Team Cuba on the international stage. He has represented them in the Can Am league, the Pan Am games, the Premier 12 Tournament and the Caribbean Series as well as several other appearances.
Panthers GM Mike Boehmer comments; “ We are very pleased to add a catcher of Yunior Ibarra’s caliber to the Panthers. Ibarra comes highly recommended by former Cuban Panther catcher Frank Camilo Morejon, who is now the Catching Coach on the Cuban National Team, and was the top defensive Cuban catcher of his time. In addition to a strong throwing arm, Yunior Ibarra is an excellent handler of pitchers and game calling, and this will no doubt help our pitching staff”.
The 2023 Season is quickly approaching as the Panthers open on the road on May 19th @ Brantford and play their Home Opener on May 21 vs Welland at 2:00 PM. Season Tickets are on sale now with Flex Packs soon to be released, get yours HERE