Scouting Twin Prospect #3: Jason Kubel

The Twins selected Jason Kubel in the 12th round of the 2000 June Draft, and since then, he has turned himself into the top right field prospect in the entire organization. Armed with a lightning-quick bat, and a rifle for an arm, Kubel was the Twins' 2004 Minor League Player of the Year, before he tore up his knee in the Arizon Fall League. He is now healthy again, and should be in Minnesota again very soon.

Vital Statistics:
Name:Jason Kubel
Position: Outfielder
DOB: May 25, 1982
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 190
Bats:: Left
Throws: Right

The Twins selected Kubel in the 12th round of the 2000 June Draft, and he signed right out of high school. He would make a steady ascent through the Minor League, and in 2004 put together one of the better seasons in the history of the Twins' farm system. However, he was injured in the Arizona Fall League that fall, but has battled back from the career-threatening injury to be the top right-field prospect in the Twins' farm system once again.

In 2000, Kubel made his Minor League debut as a member of the Gulf Coast League Twins. He put together a nice season, batting .282 in 23 games, but the Twins felt he needed another year of seasoning in the GCL the following year. They liked his batting eye and plate management, but just felt he was not physically ready for the jump to full-season baseball.

In 2001, Kubel batted a monstrous .331 in 37 games, and proved to the Twins that he was ready to make the jump to the Midwest League. He also drove in 30, smacked his first professional home run, and struck out only 14 times. The next season he would really begin to make a name for himself within the organization.

In his first year of full-season baseball, Kubel showed some power to go along with his great batting eye, smacking 17 home runs in 115 games. He also batted .321, drove in 69, and slugged at a .521 clip. It was clear that the extra year of seasoning at the Gulf Coast League did him wonders, and he would now be ready for his first taste of High-A ball, and the chance to play against some of the better prospects in the Minor Leagues.

While the Florida State League is usually reserved for pitching, Kubel did have a good season with the Fort Myers Miracle, as he drove in 82 runs in 116 games. While he would hit .298, which was the last time he would hit under .300, he did smack 125 base hits, 29 of which went for extra-bases.

However, it was the 2004 season that really put Kubel on the map. He began the year with the New Britain Rock Cats and went absolutely crazy at the plate. He batted .377, hit six home runs, and drove in 29 in 37 games. He slugged a whopping .667, prompting the Twins to promote the then-22 year old to Triple-A Rochester for a taste of International League ball.

Kubel did not disappoint, as he batted .343 for the Red Wings, and smacked 16 home runs in 90 games. He also stole a career-high 16 bases, and slugged at a .560 clip. The Twins though so much of Kubel that they promoted him to the Major Leagues, where he even got seven at-bats in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees. In all, he batted .300 in his 23 big league games, and hit two home runs.

That fall, while playing in the Arizona Fall League, Kubel completely ripped his knee apart, and would go on to miss the entire 2005 season. Still, he battled back this past year, and was the Twins' starting right fielder for Opening Day 2006. He has now since been demoted to Rochester, where he is going to get back to 100 % and play everyday.

IN his first four games with the Red Wings, Kubel is batting .375, and has driven in three runs. It is only a matter of time before he is back up in the big leagues, where he should be one of the better hitters in the Twins' lineup in a year or two.

Batting and Power. Kubel can flat out swing the stick, and there is nothing he cannot do at the plate. He has power to all fields, can hit the longball, and has one of the best batting eyes in the Twins' organization. He rarely looks silly at the dish, and has the uncanny ability to come up with the big hit in the big spot. He is also able to hit all up and down the lineup, mostly in the middle, but has shown the ability to get on base from the number two spot in the order in the past. Once he gets back where he was before the injury, Kubel is going to terrorize pitchers for many years.

Base running and speed. While he did swipe 16 bases during his time in the International League in 2004, Kubel is not a base stealing threat. He has average speed, but is a very heady runner, who takes advantage of the pitcher's mistakes when he is on the basepaths. The injury to the knee will also have a lingering effect on him, but it should not limit him in the field or on the basepaths.

Defense. Kubel has one of the strongest outfield arms in the Twins' organization, and he may be number two behind Danny Santiesteban. Though his lack of blazing speed does make him average at getting to every ball, he makes up with it with that arm. He is a good defender, not an all-around great defender, but he does make all the plays and some of the harder ones. He definitely is not a liability in the field, but he also probably wont win any Gold Gloves during his Major League career.

ETA. 2006 (second time). Kubel was in right field when the Twins opened up their 2006 regular season, but has since been demoted to Rochester of the International League. The slugging rightfielder will be back in Minnesota very soon, as Twins' brass just want to see him play everyday. With the Michael Cuddyer-Lew Ford platoon in right field at the big league level, Rochester is the best fit for Kubel right now. Once he is back at 100%, he should be the man in right field for years to come.

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