Padres Prospect Interview: Jeff Ibarra

San Diego Padres prospect Jeff Ibarra is seen as a potential LOOGY – a Left-handed One-Out GuY. The team likes his arm action and slider, hoping to see more consistency and added weight to his frame.

Jeff, one of the goals was the off season workout program. What did you do? How did it go? Where are you at now?

Jeff Ibarra: They told me not to worry about running or conditioning, anything like that to burn a lot of calories. They told me to eat more, which I did. I ate a lot. I just went to the gym every day. I feel like I got stronger, personally and mentally. It's up to them to see how I perform, where I go from there.

I talked to Jimmy Jones after instructs. One thing he mentioned was that you are like a John Candelaria kind of guy. We're talking about a Big Leaguer who had a lot of success. When you hear something like that, how does that make you feel?

Jeff Ibarra: It makes me feel good inside that they'd relate me to a Big Leaguer. I have different styles, I guess.

How do you keep your mechanics in check as a tall pitcher?

Jeff Ibarra: It's just motor skills and repetitions in my mind that keep me in check. I do early work to help me, tune ups and things, like getting the ball up, crossing over when I pitch, stuff like that.

Is it harder to know your own body in a sense? You talk to a lot of these guys who've been doing it a couple of years, who say "Okay, now I understand my own body." But, when you're first starting out, it could be, "Well, I don't get it. I don't really know when I'm doing something wrong."

Jeff Ibarra: I guess in high school was when I first started thinking about it, when I was doing something wrong. I really started to think about what I could do to change it or make it better. Now that I'm up here, it's a whole different mentality, a whole different level. I do think about it. Every pitch, if I do something wrong, I'll say it to myself and I'll try to fix it on the next one.

How do you find more success against right-handed hitters?

Jeff Ibarra: Against right-handed hitters? I throw all my pitches, but mostly fast balls and change-ups because they tend to dive away from them. For lefties, I use curve ball a lot more.

Do you feel like you need to mix in that curve ball, because maybe you didn't do it enough? You almost give them too much credit? For the right-handers.

Jeff Ibarra: No, I can throw the curve ball in, just get it in on them or go back door on them. I'll throw what the coaches call. If they hit it, they hit it. I can't control the ball after it leaves my hand.

You hit 10 batters last year. Is it that you just don't like hitters? (laughter)

Jeff Ibarra: No. It's not that I don't like hitters. They wanted me to work on going inside, and I was. I was just going a little too inside. I worked on that in the off season, so it should be under control this year.

You had over a 2-1 ground ball rate. Is that the goal?

Jeff Ibarra: I like working ahead on the hitters. Ground balls happen. I know I'm not really dominant, I mean, I have movement. Grounds balls are a big thing. Easy outs, and less pitches for me to throw in a game.

You say you're not dominant, but with that weight, do you feel that maybe your velocity is going up here?

Jeff Ibarra: I feel like it has gone up with the weight I've put on and just with working out.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one pitch from anyone of your teammates to put into your own arsenal, what would it be, from who, and why?

Jeff Ibarra: I haven't thought about that. I don't think I'd take any pitches from anybody, because everyone has their own style and their own arm slot. I'm comfortable with all my pitches, how they work and how they move.

Who is the one hitter that you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Jeff Ibarra: Probably Vince Belnome. He's a good hitter. He knows how to be patient and what count to look for. I think he thinks a lot when he's hitting. He pays attention.

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