The stoppage of play due to COVID-19 not only affects professional athletes; former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez’s son, R.J., is among those sidelined.
Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft reminded us even more just how much we are longing for live sporting events, especially the Philadelphia Phillies and Major League Baseball.
Yet, while we wish to see Bryce Harper hit home runs and Aaron Nola to strike out the opposing batters, it is easy to forget the athletes who have not made it to The Show yet in their careers; better yet, high school seniors who may need to play in order to secure their dream school, or draw the attention of certain scouts to enter into the amateur draft.
Among these high school athletes includes the son of former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez — R.J. Ibanez. Listed as 6-foot-0 and 165 pounds, R.J. plays the catcher, center field and pitching positions for Westminster Christian Baseball in Miami, Florida.
In the nine games R.J. had played this season prior to it being paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he hit .346 with eight singles, one double and four RBI across 32 plate appearances. On the mound, he threw one inning and struck out two of his four batters faced spanning 11 pitches, allowing just one hit.
R.J. luckily is fortunate in that he already committed to play for Florida International University after graduation; others are not as lucky. Still, missing out on games that could have been used to further develop skillsets is something these players will never get back.
In August 2018, Raul tweeted, “Congratulations to my son [R.J.] on committing to FIU Baseball! Continue striving, believing, and dreaming big. You’re a tremendous athlete, but more importantly the best son any father could ask for.”
R.J. will look to follow the footsteps of his father, a 19-year MLB veteran and 2009 National League All-Star. In three seasons in red pinstripes, 2009-2011, Raul slashed .264/.329/.469 with 100 doubles, nine triples, 70 home runs, 260 RBI, 157 walks and 33 strikeouts spanning 433 games. In the 2009 World Series, the father of five posted a .304/.333/.609 slash line with four doubles, one home run and four RBI spanning 24 plate appearances. And, this past winter, he was among the names listed on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
Best of luck, R.J.