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20120615 Angel IbanezASHEBORO, N.C. — Sharyland High School graduate Angel Ibanez was at his host family’s house watching TV and surfing the Internet June 6 when he got a call from the Houston Astros.

“I was in and out of talks with the Astros all day,” he said over the phone from North Carolina. “They called and said, ‘We’re going to take you in the next round. I hope you’re ready.’”

Angel, a junior at the University of Texas-Pan American, was spending the summer keeping his skills sharp with the Asheboro Copperheads in the Coastal Plains League. But that was cut short when the Houston Astros drafted him in the 28th round. He said the Astros shut him down in North Carolina so he will be coming back to Mission soon. But he won’t be returning to UTPA for his senior season as Angel decided to jump right into the minors.

“It has been a dream of mine since growing up, and it’s a dream come true,” he said. “Since the news broke, I’ve gotten phone calls from my friends, my family, my coaches, my ex-coaches, everybody really.”

And his family is ecstatic too.

“I was very happy for him. I feel that he’s worked so hard for it and I’m glad he is finally going to move on to the next chapter in his life,” said his mother, Elena.

His father, Javier, said he is proud of his son’s accomplishments.

“We are ecstatic. It’s a father and son thing that goes way back to when he was five years old,” Javier said, adding that he dedicated himself to helping Angel pursue his on-the-diamond interests.

“I taught him everything I learned. And from there he went on and he played for many years,” Javier said. “And people knew him because he was always a step ahead of the game. He always knew more than the age group he was playing in because that’s how I wanted to teach him.”

His mother couldn’t emphasize how proud she is of Angel.

“I could write a book about my son’s accomplishments. I’m a mother,” she said with a laugh. “He excelled his whole life and it’s paid off, thank God. He got drafted and now we’ll see where it goes. Angel is very happy and we’re very proud of him.”

The next phase in Angel’s life won’t be toting a backpack full of books at school or working out in the weight room between classes at UTPA. In fact, Angel said he’s not sure how this will all work out yet. He doesn’t know where or when he has to report to the Astros, who will give him further instructions later. But that doesn’t bother him.

“I mean, the biggest thing, that I know, is that I’m going to be playing baseball,” he said. “So that’s all I need to know.”

And for someone who’s been playing baseball nonstop since turning five years old, that’s a comforting notion.

Angel said the support he received off the field from his parents, family and friends over the years has shaped the demeanor that he takes to the field. While Angel said his favorite part of the game is hitting, which he’s known for, support from family shaped the character that he brings to the field and to his team.

“I just enjoy everything. I’m a hard worker with a lot of determination. That’s how I was raised and I thank my parents for all that,” he said. “Those are the two people that I thank so much for the way that they raised me and how they drove me to practice, practiced with me and helped me out everyday.”

That upbringing, Angel said, made him a good sport.

“I don’t get out of hand on a bad call. I don’t get down on myself if I mess up once,” he said.

But try to talk to Angel about what he likes to do while he is not playing baseball and the ball player who describes himself as ‘a good bat,’ hesitates a little.

“That’s a hard question,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just easy going. I like to have fun and hang out with friends and family. I don’t go out much. I just like to enjoy everything and work hard.”

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