Friday, November 4, 2011

Prospect A to Z Day 11: Kyeong Kang and David Kubiak

This is a new feature on the site, mainly because we're still in the doldrums of prospect season and we want to get discussion going. We'll be going through the alphabet in October and November to pick one prospect a day before our top prospect coverage starts in December. There's no real rhyme or reason to who we'll talk about, and we're open to suggestions for some letters.

I have always liked Kyeong Kang as a prospect. Positional players who don't have a real weakness and who have a solid approach at the plate intrigue me. They don't even have to have one or more standout tools. And that is exactly what Kyeong Kang is. An outfield prospect with no real weaknesses, a good approach at the plate and no plus tool, but solid tools across the board.

Lets analyse his tools a bit over time. As he started playing in the Rays system in '07 (drafted in '06) I have 5 seasons of data to rely on:

(Click at the image for a larger view)

Usually players without plus tools (or players who can't put their tools together) degress when they move up the minor league levels. Especially their batting average decreases and their strikout-rate increases. Players with plus tools, however, often even get stronger with the competition. They distinguish themselves from the rest
by keeping their batting average high and not striking out more despite better competition. Kyeong Kang always has been a tweener. If everything falls into place he could have enough tools to climb the latter and make it to the bigs but if he doesn't progress to his full potential he won't make it to the bigs. In the first three years of his career he was developing very well. His hit tool seemed to take off with better competition, he refined his already above average approach at the plate, he developed solid power and even used his run tool at the basepaths.

In '10, however, after moving up to Port Charlotte (and after moving up the prospect chart from being the Rays' 6th best MiL hitting prospect after '08 to #4 after '09) he seemed to hit a wall. His power and batting average diminished while his strikeout rate increased. The usual symptoms for players who are not talented enough for the competition. On the other side, you can't write off a promising prospect after one bad year. Kevin and I wrote that he has enough tools but that he needs to completely develop them (okay contact skills, developing power potential, good eye, decent speed) in order to become a major league player.

And that is what we saw this year. His approach at the plate is better than it's ever been while his power increased to the solid value it had before. His only average hit tool, however, seems to hold him back. And that very much is the key to Mr. Kang's future as a baseball player. If he can develop it enough to keep on hitting in the .260-.270 range, then he can make it to the bigs. If not, then he won't make it as the lack of a plus tool can't overcome a low batting average.

David Kubiak

In response to a reader request, I'm also taking a short (couldn't find all that much about him) look at David Kubiak. Kubiak was drafted in the 36th round of the '11 player draft (out of University of Albany). He is a very tall pitcher (6 foot 7) who pitched well in his pro debut (25.1 IP, 12.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 9.2 H/9, 3.26 ERA, 3.36 FIP).

While being used as a reliever in Princeton and Port Charlotte, Kubiak is used to a starting role. He set career highs for the University of Albany in innings pitched and strikeouts. So, the workload doesn't seem to be a problem. He is a hard worker who loves to play baseball and who wants to improve everyday. He tries to play the game the right way and he is eager to learn how to pitch intelligently and successfully.

With the abundance of mid-to-high 90s heat, his success comes from pitching to contact. Not having mid-90s heat right now, however, doesn't mean that he can't have it in the future. Reports (from 2006, 2011 and 2011) indicate that he should be able to add some strength to his frame. This could result in some extra-miles on his fastball, immidiately making it more probable for him to succeed as a pitcher. I'm looking forward to seeing him develop in the coming years.


  1. Who are yall doing for L? Linksy, Lyerly, Lobstein, Lee or ... I really like what yall are doing here. I enjoy reading these post on a daily basis. GREAT JOB!!! Keep it up