In a deal to bolster minor league depth, Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto sent highly touted left-hander Ricardo Sanchez to Atlanta earlier this offseason in exchange for prospects 3B Kyle Kubitza and RHP Nate Hyatt. While Hyatt could be a useful bullpen piece in a few years, Kyle Kubitza is the main component of this trade.
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Kubitza heads over to the Halos with the expectation that he can handle the starting third base duties in 2016. With David Freese’s free agency approaching next offseason and and no definite successor waiting in the minors, Dipoto needed to act quickly and that he did. Although Sanchez is only 17 years young and possesses top of the rotation upside, Dipoto got a solid return in Kubitza who is likely to be a mainstay on the roster for years to come.
Kyle Kubitza has four seasons of minor league ball under his belt and played out last year with the Braves’ Double-A affiliate. After three fairly productive years, Kubitza’s stock soared in 2014 after he boasted a .295/.405/.470 slashline and 123 OPS+ in 529 plate appearances from the left side of the plate. The former third round pick had the 12th highest OPS in the Southern League and matched similar numbers to other top prospects such as the Cubs’ Addison Russell, White Sox’s Micah Johnson, and the Dodgers’ Corey Seager. For his career, Kubitza owns a .381 on-base percentage and his year-by-year OBP has risen the past three seasons. Although he hit just eight homers last year, the young third baseman managed an impressive 50 extra base hits overall, including 11 triples. Speed is a major part of the Texas State product’s game as along with the 11 triples he also stole 21 bags and was successful an incredible 77% of the time. The only knock on Kubitza’s offense is his susceptibly to the strikeout as he has whiffed in 24% of his career PA. This could be due to his patience at the plate and ability to draw walks, so this shouldn’t be too big of an issue.
On the defensive side, Kubitza is solid and holds his own. Looking at his defensive stats, we can see that his .924 fielding percentage is roughly average for a third baseman. MLB.com’s scouting report grades his arm as a 60 out of 80 and his glove as a 50, so staying at third base shouldn’t be an issue for Kubitza. Even if he doesn’t have the quickest feet, his strong arm should allow him to make tough plays and by no means be a defensive liability on the field. We should get a better understanding of his range and other defensive abilities while he attends Spring Training.
Kubitza is slated to start the year in Triple-A this year but could make his major league debut this year if Freese succumbs to injury. A September call up is also within reason and offers another opportunity to make a cameo with the big club. Either way, with a vacancy at third base in 2016, it’s most likely that Kubitza will be an Angel next year and should be here to stay. With his combination of patience, gap power, and strong arm, you can expect Kyle Kubitza to be a solid major league asset for years to come as a Halo.