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June 9, 2012

By: Jonah Goldberg 

EDINBURG, Texas – The University of Texas-Pan American Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced on Saturday that junior third baseman and Mission-native Angel Ibanez has signed with the Houston Astros organization and will report to the Greeneville Astros (Class R, Appalachian League) in Greeneville, Tennessee, this coming Wednesday. 

The Astros drafted Ibanez with the first pick of the 28th round (849th overall) of the MLB Draft this past Wednesday. It was the first time the Astros had drafted a Bronc. 

Greeneville has been affiliated with the Astros since 2004. Four of their alumni are currently playing for Houston in second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielder J.D. Martinez, and pitchers Fernando Abad and Jordan Lyles. Two other alumni are in the majors, as pitcher Troy Patton is with the Baltimore Orioles and pitcher Felipe Paulino is with the Kansas City Royals. In total, there are nine players active in affiliated baseball that have reached the majors after playing for Greeneville. 

Ibanez is the second native of the Rio Grande Valley to play for Greeneville. La Grulla-native and pitcher Ruben Alaniz played there in 2010. 

Ibanez will player under the direction of Greeneville manager Omar Lopez, who earned Astros 2010 Player Development Man of the Year while managing the Gulf Coast Astros. The hitting coach is former-Astro Cesar Cedeño, who played for Houston from 1970 through 1981. During a 17-year major league career, Cedeño hit .285 with 199 home runs, 976 RBI, 1,084 runs scored and 550 stolen bases. 

Ibanez is looking to become the fifth Bronc to ever make it to the major leagues as a player. Four have done it previously, including George Williams, who played for the Oakland A’s from 1995 through 1997 and the San Diego Padres in 2000, catcher Dan Firova, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1981 through 1982 and the Cleveland Indians in 1988, infielder Wayne Tyrone, who played for the Chicago Cubs in 1978, and outfielder Jim Tyrone, who played for the Cubs in 1972, 1974 and 1975 as well as the A’s in 1977. 

During his final season with the Broncs, Ibanez hit .332 with five doubles, four triples, three home runs, 38 RBI and 38 runs scored. In three years at UTPA, Ibanez has hit .337 with 23 doubles, 13 triples, 11 home runs, 111 RBI and 124 runs scored in 157 games. He has a career on-base percentage of .384 and a slugging percentage of .467. 

Ibanez has been one of the most difficult batters in the NCAA to strikeout throughout his career averaging just one every 15 at-bats (42 strikeouts in 630 at-bats). This season, Ibanez ranked 45th in the nation by averaging one strikeout every 14.9 at-bats, while last year he ranked 17th with one every 18.4 at-bats. This season, Ibanez did not strikeout in any of his first 66 at-bats, a span of 15.5 games. He only had two multi-strikeout games, giving him a total of three in his career. 

Ibanez has seen action all over the field in his three years with the Broncs. As a junior, Ibanez played in 20 games at third base, 21 in right field and nine in center field. As a sophomore, Ibanez played in 51 games at first base and two at second base. As a freshman, Ibanez played in 37 games at second base, five at shortstop and three at second base. 

The University of Texas-Pan American Department of Intercollegiate Athletics competes at the NCAA Division I classification. UTPA, formerly known as Pan American College and Pan American University, is a part of the University of Texas System of Schools. The Broncs compete in 14 varsity sports; men’s and women’s basketball, golf, tennis, track and field, and cross country, along with women’s volleyball and men’s baseball. In 1963, then known as Pan American College, the Broncs men’s basketball program won the NAIA National Championship with a 73-62 victory over Western Carolina. In 2008 UTPA joined the new all-sports division of the Great West Conference.

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