Kubitza Brings The Intangibles Too

Kyle Kubitza is leading the Rome Braves in home runs so far this season with eight. He also leads the team in walks with 42; not to mention his on-base percentage, which is currently sitting at a respectable .370. These skills in addition to a set of intangibles rarely possessed by young players equate to a pretty high ceiling for this 21-year-old out of Texas State.

"He's a very athletic guy," hitting coach Carlos Mendez said. "He's getting better defensively. He's got a good arm, he can run well, and he's going to hit. If he keeps working to develop as a hitter and a ball player with the attitude that he has, the sky is the limit for him."

Kubitza was a third-round pick by the Braves in 2011, and he spent last year with the short-season Danville club. This meant that Mendez didn't know a whole lot about him at the start of Spring Training this year, while his manager Randy Ingle [who coached in Danville in 2011] was more familiar with Kubitza's style of play.

"I was in Danville last year, so I had him last year," Ingle said. "I knew him going into Spring Training and coming out of Spring Training, and he gets better and better every day."

After putting on about 15 pounds of weight in the offseason, Kubitza has felt more power behind his swing this year. In a ball park that is not exactly hitter friendly, his eight home runs at the half way point of the season comes as no surprise to his manager.

"He's a wiry strong guy with good bat speed. He's naturally strong, so it doesn't surprise me that he's leading our team," Ingle said.

Kubitza takes pride in having a good on-base percentage, but to him, the importance of his own success takes a backseat to that of his team's.

"I'm a huge fan of on-base percentage, because that's more of a team stat than it is a personal stat," Kubitza said. "If you're on base, you give other people a chance to do stuff...I like on-base percentage more than I like average."

It is this type of team mentality that sets Kubitza apart from some other players his age who are working their way through the minors. Both Mendez and Ingle had positive things to say about his character and attitude.

"It's been a struggle at times, but the one thing about Kyle that I learned is he's ready to play," Mendez said. "He puts everything behind [him] really quick. If it's a good game or a bad game, he's ready to go the next day, good attitude. It's hard to find that kind of personality at this level."

"I think his makeup and the way he plays the game, the intangibles that he has, are very positive," Ingle echoed. "He plays the game the right way. He runs balls out all the time, and his baseball instincts are very good."

While Kubitza is off to a good start in his career, he has struggled at times as well. He leads the Rome Braves in strikeouts this year with 67. He wants to change that by making solid contact with good pitches earlier in counts.

"I like to pride myself on having a good eye and getting on base," Kubitza said. "So I am trying to cut down on strikeouts. I think a lot of it for me is getting on pitches earlier in the count instead of fouling them off.

"When my strikeouts were down for a little bit, it was more of me hitting the pitches that I should hit earlier in the count rather than getting deeper in the count."

Mendez expressed some concern regarding the strikeouts, but he thinks it's just a matter of time before Kubitza irons out that kink.

"He's going to cut [down on] the strikeouts," Mendez opined. "He's got a good swing. When he's going good, the barrel of his bat stays in the strike zone for a long time. He's making good adjustments for it, and I think it's going to be better with time."

Kubitza still has some room for improvement in his defensive game as his 12 errors this season indicate. He spent the offseason mostly concentrating on improving his hitting, but the 6-foot-3 third baseman, who worked out with an old teammate during the offseason [a pitcher currently working his way through the Red Sox organization], is taking the time to try to improve his defense as well.

"For me, it's just making sure that I focus the entire time," Kubitza said. "Sometimes, on a routine ball or a ball that's not as taxing to get to, you tend to try and throw the ball before you get it, and a lot of it for me is slowing everything down, because I just tend to get a little antsy. A lot of it is just staying with it before I try to make the throw to first."

This is Kubitza's first full year playing professional baseball, so it remains to be seen just how his career will play out, but Ingle seems to think that if he keeps working hard, he could go a long way.

"I think he can be a good one," Ingle said. "I mean, definitely, I think he's going to be a good hitter. He's got a plus arm on defense. His hands are good. He's quick."

"Down the road, I don't know when or how long it's going to take, but he could play in the big leagues," Mendez concurred. "He's a good kid that works hard, and when you put all that stuff together, the good attitude and talent that he has, I think that he could go really far in this game."

Again, it's hard to tell just how far this young third baseman will go with the Braves organization, but if his coaches' opinions are any indication, Atlanta could be his future destination.


Atlanta Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"He's a very athletic guy,\" hitting coach Carlos Mendez said. \"He's getting better defensively. He's got a good arm, he can run well, and he's going to hit. If he keeps working to develop as a hitter and a ball player with the attitude that he has, the sky is the limit for him.\"
\r\n
\r\nKubitza was a third-round pick by the Braves in 2011, and he spent last year with the short-season Danville club. This meant that Mendez didn't know a whole lot about him at the start of Spring Training this year, while his manager Randy Ingle [who coached in Danville in 2011] was more familiar with Kubitza's style of play.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was in Danville last year, so I had him last year,\" Ingle said. \"I knew him going into Spring Training and coming out of Spring Training, and he gets better and better every day.\"
\r\n
\r\nAfter putting on about 15 pounds of weight in the offseason, Kubitza has felt more power behind his swing this year. In a ball park that is not exactly hitter friendly, his eight home runs at the half way point of the season comes as no surprise to his manager.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a wiry strong guy with good bat speed. He's naturally strong, so it doesn't surprise me that he's leading our team,\" Ingle said.
\r\n
\r\nKubitza takes pride in having a good on-base percentage, but to him, the importance of his own success takes a backseat to that of his team's.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm a huge fan of on-base percentage, because that's more of a team stat than it is a personal stat,\" Kubitza said. \"If you're on base, you give other people a chance to do stuff...I like on-base percentage more than I like average.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt is this type of team mentality that sets Kubitza apart from some other players his age who are working their way through the minors. Both Mendez and Ingle had positive things to say about his character and attitude.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's been a struggle at times, but the one thing about Kyle that I learned is he's ready to play,\" Mendez said. \"He puts everything behind [him] really quick. If it's a good game or a bad game, he's ready to go the next day, good attitude. It's hard to find that kind of personality at this level.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think his makeup and the way he plays the game, the intangibles that he has, are very positive,\" Ingle echoed. \"He plays the game the right way. He runs balls out all the time, and his baseball instincts are very good.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile Kubitza is off to a good start in his career, he has struggled at times as well. He leads the Rome Braves in strikeouts this year with 67. He wants to change that by making solid contact with good pitches earlier in counts.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like to pride myself on having a good eye and getting on base,\" Kubitza said. \"So I am trying to cut down on strikeouts. I think a lot of it for me is getting on pitches earlier in the count instead of fouling them off.
\r\n
\r\n\"When my strikeouts were down for a little bit, it was more of me hitting the pitches that I should hit earlier in the count rather than getting deeper in the count.\"
\r\n
\r\nMendez expressed some concern regarding the strikeouts, but he thinks it's just a matter of time before Kubitza irons out that kink.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's going to cut [down on] the strikeouts,\" Mendez opined. \"He's got a good swing. When he's going good, the barrel of his bat stays in the strike zone for a long time. He's making good adjustments for it, and I think it's going to be better with time.\"
\r\n
\r\nKubitza still has some room for improvement in his defensive game as his 12 errors this season indicate. He spent the offseason mostly concentrating on improving his hitting, but the 6-foot-3 third baseman, who worked out with an old teammate during the offseason [a pitcher currently working his way through the Red Sox organization], is taking the time to try to improve his defense as well.
\r\n
\r\n\"For me, it's just making sure that I focus the entire time,\" Kubitza said. \"Sometimes, on a routine ball or a ball that's not as taxing to get to, you tend to try and throw the ball before you get it, and a lot of it for me is slowing everything down, because I just tend to get a little antsy. A lot of it is just staying with it before I try to make the throw to first.\"
\r\n
\r\nThis is Kubitza's first full year playing professional baseball, so it remains to be seen just how his career will play out, but Ingle seems to think that if he keeps working hard, he could go a long way.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he can be a good one,\" Ingle said. \"I mean, definitely, I think he's going to be a good hitter. He's got a plus arm on defense. His hands are good. He's quick.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Down the road, I don't know when or how long it's going to take, but he could play in the big leagues,\" Mendez concurred. \"He's a good kid that works hard, and when you put all that stuff together, the good attitude and talent that he has, I think that he could go really far in this game.\"
\r\n
\r\nAgain, it's hard to tell just how far this young third baseman will go with the Braves organization, but if his coaches' opinions are any indication, Atlanta could be his future destination.
\r\n
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