Detroit Tigers Prospect Countdown: #18 Austin Kubitza
The next future Detroit Tigers player is another pitcher, right-handed Austin Kubitza. The 24-year-old from Colleysville, Texas was a seventh-round draft pick right out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates; but instead of entering the minor leagues, Kubitza decided to attend college at Rice University. Four years later, in 2013, the Tigers drafted him in the fourth round. He’s #18 on the Motor City Bengals prospect list.
Kubitza has been through several levels of the Tigers minor league system. He pitched in a total of 25.1 innings with the Single-A+ Lakeland Tigers in spring ball and regular season ball during 2013. He pitched a 4.62 ERA with 19 strikeouts, 11 base-on-balls, and 21 hits. In 2014, he pitched for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps going 10-2 with an ERA of 2.34 in 23 starts. His WHIP in 2014 was 1.076.
For Kubitza, 2015 was not his best year. He pitched for the Double-A Erie Seawolves, going 5-13 with a 5.39 ERA in 27 starts. His WHIP was 1.788. Of the pitchers who had 20 or more starts with the Seawolves in 2015, Kubitza’s ERA was at the high end of the pack; only one other pitcher, Slade Smith, had a higher ERA of 6.86. But, since the Seawolves finished with a 64-78 record, Kubitza was not the only player with struggles.
In 2016, Kubitza was be back in Erie. The 6’5, 225 lb. pitcher has a few things to figure out before he can be officially moved to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens or before he gets a chance at Comerica Park. Kubitza has only two solid pitches, a four-seam fastball that tops out at 92 mph and a slider that reaches speeds of 82-85. While in the minor leagues, he needs to develop a pitch that will get him a guaranteed strike.
Even though Kubitza does not have the speed that most major leaguers seem to have in today’s game, he does have a deceptive release and he does not throw the ball straight. The crooked pitches are what help him get the outs; his speed speed and so-so command are what allow batters to get so many hits and runs off of him. He has been working on a change-up and a two-seam fastball.
Kubitza was a standout on the Rice University baseball team. He was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year in 2011 by the American Baseball Coaches Association for his performances. In 2012, he pitched a 2.69 ERA and batters against him pitched .211. He also earned a spot on the 2012 All-NCAA Regional Team. In 2013, he a Preseason All-American selection in the second team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Based on Kubitza’s past
Next: Detroit Tigers Prospect #18: Drew Smith
Based on Kubitza’s past performances, interest in bettering his stuff, and ability to make 20+ starts shows that there is something great on the horizon for this young pitcher. While he most likely will be suited to relief pitching due to the slower speeds and unusual release, if he can perfect those new pitches, it is likely that will appear on the Detroit Tigers roster in the next two or three season.