Tigers Scouting Report #29: Austin Kubitza

Austin Kubitza had an excellent, bordering on dominating, 2014 season with West Michigan, posting an ERA in the low 2's while racking up plenty of strikeouts. Can Kubitza continue that level of success as he moves up the ladder, and do so in the starting rotation?

Austin Kubitza

Vitals

Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 11/16/1991 (2015 Opening Day Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6-5/225
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft, 4th Round
Ranking History: NR (2014), #29 (2015)

Background: The Tigers 4th round pick in 2013, Kubitza tossed just 25-1/3 innings during his debut season. The Tigers assigned him to West Michigan in 2014 and he logged plenty of innings and improved his standing among professional scouts.

Performance:

2014 Stats - Pitching
TEAMGGSSVIPHHRRERBBSOHBPERAWHIPW/L
West Mich 23230131.098546344314072.341.0810-2


Scouting Report

Body: Tall, strong frame; very good pitcher’s body; well-conditioned; some room for additional strength as he reaches physical maturity but significant gains are unlikely at this point; decent athlete; good length in arms and legs.

Delivery/Mechanics: Simple from rocker step through balance point; repeats that portion of delivery well; stays on balance; minimal effort to drive to plate; arm angle is at least high-3/4 and more often nearly over the top; good deception with arm speed and the way his arm comes across his body at the finish; can struggle at times to repeat release point; overall has solid delivery with deception and ability to make everything work consistently.

Fastball: Sits easily 88-90 mph; some reports of reaching 92-93 mph from scouts last summer; rarely reaches upper end of velo range; FB has excellent sink and some riding life; very difficult to square; induces plenty of ground balls; velo disappeared after freshman year of college and is unlikely to return at this point; pitch plays up because of strike throwing and impressive movement; works as average offering despite below-average velocity. Grade – Present 5/Future 5

Slider: Excellent pitch; bread and butter; relies heavily on SL and will throw pitch too frequently; pitch works mid-80s with regularity; hard, biting break with tight spin and incredible deception; flashes as plus MLB pitch right now and could consistently have that rating at his peak; legitimate swing and miss pitch that can compensate for middling FB. Grade – 5+/6

Changeup: Improved CH throughout 2014 season; still grades out fringe-average rather than decidedly below-average; has stretches where he maintains arm speed but other times when arm slows and pitch is given away; some scouts project an average pitch while others don’t see feel and limited growth potential. Grade – 4+/4+

Control/Command: Improved mechanical consistency led to more strikes with FB; commands SL better than FB; both pitches can be difficult to control at times because of movement; profiles as more of a strike thrower than a command specialist.

Other: Intelligent pitcher; can become too reliant on SL and benefits from pitching off FB more frequently; trusts his stuff and goes right after hitters with two primary pitches; limited room for future growth of overall game.



Final Word

Summary: FB-SL pitcher that can induce weak contact with heater and miss bats with slider; CH lags behind; intelligent and continually improving his ability to execute delivery; needs to continue throwing more strikes; some scouts see potential for back end starter while more see middle reliever with slider-heavy approach.

Risk: Low risk; nearly finished product; will get upper-level experience in 2015; low ceiling player with marginal room for improvement/growth.

Projection: Fastball velocity is unlikely to return and below-average heater will always be second pitch because of impressive slider; has body and durability to handle innings and remain in the rotation; stuff unlikely to hold up multiple time through the rotation and once the book is out on him; profiles as 6th/7th inning reliever that could stretch out and fill gaps when injuries strike.

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