UC Irvine’s recent baseball success has produced top-notch talent that has ended up moving to the next level. This year’s UCI team is no different from the rest. There is, however, one player who shines just a little brighter than the rest. His name is Daniel Bibona.
Bibona has been nothing but an ace pitcher for UC Irvine in his final two years as an Anteater. As a junior, he amassed an impressive 12-1 record to go along with a 2.63 ERA and 108 strikeouts. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, but chose to come back to Irvine for his senior campaign. So far this year, he has a 9-2 record with an amazing 2.10 ERA and 100 strikeouts, before battling rib muscle inflammation late in the season.
Bibona was able to easily point out how he has been able to ascend as a pitcher.
“A lot of it is trying to make yourself as good as you can be on a day-to-day basis,” Bibona said. “Find anything that can make you better.”
Daniel Bibona is poised to make a splash in this year’s amateur baseball draft and hopefully be chosen a lot higher than he was last year. According to DraftSite.com, Bibona has a great chance of going early on in the sixth round, a ten round jump from last year.
What Daniel Bibona has done is nothing but spectacular considering his 6-foot, 170-pound frame. He is only able to hit the upper 80’s with his fastball, but he seems to get the strikeout whenever he needs it. His manager at UCI, Mike Gillespie, sees the potential and already has a major league scouting report for his top pitcher.
“He’s a quality left-handed pitcher with command of three pitches: a fastball that, as a pro, will get to 88-90, a slider, and a change-up,” Gillespie said. “He can command his fastball to both sides of the plate, and has shown the consistent ability to throw any pitch on any count in any big situation.”
However, there is more to Bibona than his reportage of pitches according to Gillespie.
“He is a fearless competitor, a smart and quick learner, and athletic to the point of being an exceptional fielding pitcher,” Gillespie said. “His drive and determination is exceptional … there is no down-side, and nothing not to like. He is a proven winner and I personally believe we will see him be a major league pitcher.”
Bibona, who reminds Gillespie of his former USC pitcher and current Colorado Rockies pitcher Randy Flores, is not letting the draft control his life.
“It’s a very, very weird thing,” Bibona said. “Right now, I just want to get healthy. I want to come back and throw. I just don’t want to leave doubt in anyone’s mind. “
Bibona only has a few games left on an amazing collegiate career. After that, his life will begin a new chapter. Bibona, however, has enjoyed his time at UCI and wants to be remembered as someone who made a difference and competed hard every time it was his turn to pitch.
“It’s really been a dream come true,” Bibona said.