From the Minor League Ball mailbag:
What's your read on Kyle Kubitza? An owner in my league has him available in trade and I could use a young third baseman and he wants a surplus veteran in return. . .I'm in last place and he is in first and wants one of my old guys to help him for the stretch run. Worth a gamble?---C.J., Amarillo, Texas
Well like all fantasy questions, it depends on the specific context of your league and who exactly the "old guy" is. However, if you are in a rebuilding mode and need a third baseman, Kubitza is an interesting option. I'm not saying he is an outstanding option, but he's worth looking at.
Kubitza was a third round pick by the Atlanta Braves back in 2011 out of Texas State University. He got off to a terrific start in rookie ball with Danville (.321/.407/.475) but that was the Appalachian League and experienced college players are expected to perform well there. He did not perform well in the South Atlantic League in 2012, hitting just .239/.349/.393, but he gradually righted the ship over the last two years, hitting .260/.380/.434 in High-A in '13 and .295/.405/.470 in Double-A in '14.
The Angels got him this past winter in trade for pitching prospect Ricardo Sanchez and relief prospect Nate Hyatt. Kubitza opened 2015 with Triple-A Salt Lake and was hitting .287/.362/.452 before his promotion.
Kubitza's numbers may not look great on the surface but within context he's done pretty well. Even the unattractive slash stats in 2012 still resulted in a 108 wRC+, and his production has picked up the last three years, his wRC+s going from 130 to 145 then slipping a bit this year back to118. He did lead the Southern League in on-base percentage last year and in general he shows a good eye for the strike zone, to the point where some scouts feel he's actually too passive.
On defense, Kubitza has a very strong arm and sufficient range to play third base at the major league level, though his error rate is somewhat high. The errors have decreased with experience and should continue to do so.
The main question for Kubitza, both in fantasy terms and in real baseball terms, is power. He's quite strong physically and his 6-3, 215 pound build looks built for power. However, he doesn't get to his raw power in games as often as you'd hope: his career high in homers is 12 and his power is mainly to the gaps. His strikeout rate is persistently around one per game and we'll have to see how his batting average and OBP hold up, though his willingness to work walks helps.
Overall, Kubitza's profile reminds me of Mark Teahen: a big left-handed hitter who doesn't produce the expected power given his size and strength, but who will flash some reasonable on-base skills and play competently at third base. It isn't a star profile by any means but Teahen did hold a job for five years and Kubitza could be a similar player.
Whether that meets your needs or not is for you to decide.
To submit questions to the Minor League Ball Mailbag; email your question to me at Johnsickels@sbnation.com. I like including hometowns so tell me where you are from, if you like.
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