Reliever Izquierdo rides sinker to success

Originally born in Cuba, Clinton reliever Ivan Izquierdo signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent out of St. Thomas University last season. Lone Star Dugout features the right-handed sinkerballer.

Clinton reliever Ivan Izquierdo has the distinction of being the only player in the Rangers organization to be born in Cuba.

"I was originally born in Cuba," said Izquierdo. "I was born and raised in Cuba and came over to Miami when I was 16 years old. My dad left the country a couple of years before us. He was able to claim me and my mom and we were able to come over a few years after."

Speaking both the English and Spanish languages fluently, Izquierdo says he learned to speak English when he came to the U.S.

"As soon as I got here I went to school and learned from there," explained Izquierdo. "I learned in high school and in college."

Izquierdo attended college at St. Thomas University, a small NAIA school in his home of Miami, Florida. The right-hander had an outstanding senior season with the Bobcats, going 9-3 with a 1.78 earned run average. In 81 innings, he allowed just 61 hits while walking 29 and striking out 105.

Shortly after his collegiate career came to a close, the Rangers inked the pitcher to a contract as an undrafted free agent.

The hurler appeared in 11 games, spanning 21 1/3 innings, for the Rookie level Arizona Rangers in 2006. He put up a 2-0 record with a 5.91 ERA with the little Rangers.

The 23-year-old has spent time with both High-A Bakersfield and Single-A Clinton this season. Izquierdo struggled with the Blaze, as he yielded eight earned runs in just 8 2/3 innings in his California League stint. He struggled with control, walking eight batters in that time.

Izquierdo currently features a three-pitch repertoire, but he says it is a work in progress.

"I pretty much throw all sinkers because I'm a low three-quarters guy," explained Izquierdo. "Usually I'm around 88 to 92 miles per hour. I throw a sinking fastball, a slider, and a changeup. The changeup is something I've been working on and I'm trying to develop it as my third pitch."

A ground ball pitcher, Izquierdo has performed better since joining the LumberKings. He has no record and a 4.26 ERA in 14 appearances. The righty is holding opposing hitters to a .233 average while getting well over two groundouts per flyout.

Despite having a solid season at Clinton, Izquierdo says he is not satisfied with his performance.

"No, not really," said Izquierdo when asked if he was happy with his season to this point. "I have set some goals and I haven't really been able to accomplish them yet, but it's something I'm working on and it is still a long season. I'll get there eventually."

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