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April 26, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Sox sign Cuban defector Ibarra

The Red Sox signed former Cuban National League player Adalberto Ibarra to a major league contract worth $4.3 million, confirms Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.

Ibarra, 23, hit very well during the 2007-2008 season in Cuba, putting up a line of .363/.464/.525 while playing at first, second, and third base. Prior to that he took part in the 2004 World Junior Championship and hit .429/.500/.571, taking All-Star honors at third base. He ranked just ahead of current Arizona Diamondback star Justin Upton for eighth in batting average and tied with recently-signed Red Sox prospect Jorge Padron for third in hits in the tournament.

In the 2008-2009 season, his last before defecting from Cuba, Ibarra's stat line dropped slightly to .341/.470/.481. He is a left-handed batter, listed as 5'9" and 200 lbs.

There is some question as to what position he will focus on upon entering the Red Sox system. Reports have him primarily playing second base in his last season in Cuba. He has also played first and third base in his career, but it is believed he has recently switched to become a full-time catcher.

CubanBallPlayers.com reports that the Red Sox do indeed see him as a future catcher. The report goes on to state that he is considered a strong leader on and off the field. It also says he has an elegant batting stance, and hits well to all fields. If the Red Sox do see him as a catcher moving forward, it will be interesting to see how he fits into a system already stocked with catching prospects. He is expected to begin his Red Sox tenure in extended spring training.