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Thread: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

      
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    Default Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza


    Introduction:
    One of the greatest things about Major League Baseball and its annual amateur draft is being able to watch as kids get to live their dream. From the first pick of the first round until the last pick, each and every baseball player selected has a chance to say they were drafted and are given an opportunity to live the little league dream. Likewise, it is always enjoyable to follow the careers of the various draftees as they develop from budding athlete to future star. There is little doubt in my mind about the future of the individual I had a chance to interview recently--Mr. Austin Kubitza. Not only will Austin be a future star on the Major League mound, he is also a first class individual and I appreciate him taking his time to sit down and chat with me about his experience as a freshman phenom (or, what the heck let's barrow from Dick Vitale, a Diaper Dandy).

    For those who may not remember Mr. Kubitza, first, how could you forget him? He was only the talk of the town leading up to signing day after last year's draft. Either way, a refresher course can never hurt. Austin was the 7th round selection of your Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft. Standing, rather towering, over 6 foot 5 inches with a very projectable body and lively right arm, Kubitza was widely considered one of the elite members of the Pirates 2010 draft class. Some around here even considered him to be a "must sign" out of the draft (this is in reference to me by the way if that was not obvious). After weighing his options Austin opted to attend Rice University and become a pivotal member of the Owl's baseball team. His decision has paid off as he has exploded on to the scene like few before him (drawing some scouting comparisons to former freshman phenoms such as Matt Purke and Garrit Cole, who is considered one of the top two best players in the upcoming 2011 Draft). Currently, Austin is sporting a ridiculous stat line that reads like a Stephen Strasburg story (I have always wanted to make a Stephen King novel reference when writing, but Strasburg will have to do here) as he touts a 1.32 ERA, 1 complete game shutout, to go along with a 1.04 WHIP, and a .217 BAA. Consider further that Austin has appeared in and started eight games since joining the Owls and has surrendered only 8 ER in those eight contests. His 8 extra base hits yielded in eight games is also extremely impressive, if you were not already impressed enough by the stats above. Have I mentioned yet that he's only a freshman?

    It is with this outstanding individual and star baseball player that I recently had the opportunity to chat and have him answer some questions ranging from his decision to enroll in college to a discussion of his teammate Anthony Rendon to the new college bats and their impact on the game. Enjoy.

    [IMGL]http://collegebaseball360.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Rices-Austin-Kubitza.jpg[/IMGL]
    Interview:
    Me: There was a lot of discussion amongst the media and fans last year after you decided to enroll at Rice instead of becoming a professional. This decision is clearly paying off for you now. Can you discuss a little the decision and how you have been able to so seamlessly transition to the college game?

    Austin Kubitza: The decision to come to school instead of starting my professional track was tough. No question I wanted to start my ‘road to the show’ as soon as possible but after thinking about it and talking with my parents we both decided school would be the better option. Not only for the academic stand point but also athletically and mentally I didn’t feel I was mature enough to start on that path just yet, nothing 3 or 4 years of college couldn’t fix. As far as the transition it wasn’t an easy one, but with all the support from the guys on the team and the coaching staff it made it easier.

    Me: Often times when players choose to either return to college or enroll in college instead of turning pro they talk about specific aspects of their game that they want to focus on before venturing into the professional ranks. Some others discuss college and college athletics as an experience they don’t want to miss out on. Could you discuss how either or both of these played into your decision and further what has been your primary focus of work during your freshman season?

    A: No question both were a big part in my decision. As far as what I wanted to focus on it was pretty much being able to command my fastball. If you ask any of my high school buddies they would tell you my command wasn’t there. Since I have been here that has been a big focus and I feel like I have improved but it still needs work. The whole college and college athletics side of it has been great. I’ve always wanted to win a College World Series, so that was another thing that really helped me decide. Also if I have some freak accident and can’t play baseball anymore, I’ll at least have a great education; something my dad used to always tell me.

    Me: College athletics takes the "student athlete" concept to a whole new level. Having friends on the Vanderbilt athletic teams I know how difficult they find it to be to balance their athletics and scholastic work. How has that transition been for you? (Especially given that like Vanderbilt, Rice is a very scholastically focused University).

    A: It has been tough, but luckily this year we have been at home a lot. That alone has really helped with the transition. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a very tough school but if we would be away a lot more on trips it would be much tougher. I just happened to luck out that my freshman year we have more home than away games.

    Me: Are you in anyway surprised at how successful you have been able to be right out of the chute?

    A: If you would’ve told me I would be the Friday night starter as a freshman at Rice I probably would’ve laughed and said yeah right. So yes I am very surprised but also very happy with my success thus far. But I can’t take all the credit for my success this year. The coaching staff has really been a huge help, another reason why I chose to come to Rice.

    Me: It has been an up-and-down season for Rice despite clearly having some superior talent (yourself and Anthony Rendon included) could you talk about how the experience of this season can help you moving forward?

    A: Just pretty much going into the season knowing that every game matters. We have struggled in some mid-week games, which have really hurt our rankings. So I guess I’d say that moving forward through this year and years to come that we really need to focus on winning those mid-week games as well as the obvious weekend series wins.

    [IMGR]http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/hash/27/98/2798ab9b0e6f6f3ae134954bfa15dbb2.JPG[/IMGR]Me: With Anthony Rendon being a consensus top pick in the upcoming draft and with the Pirates holding the #1 overall pick and with yourself having been a former selection by the Pirates...has that (the draft or the Pirates) ever been a topic of discussion between you and Rendon? Have you given him any tips (the youngster teaching the veteran)?

    A: No we haven’t talked about the draft or the fact that he might be drafted by the same team I was. What advice could a freshman give to the National Player of the Year? ha-ha (You mean the future Collegiate Baseball Freshman Pitcher of the Year)

    Me: What is it like to play with a guy like Rendon who is so widely considered one of the best college fielders/bats to come out in the last several years?

    A: It’s been great, who wouldn’t want someone like Rendon on their team? Of course he has just been DHing so far this year, so we haven’t had the luxury of him playing in the field but it’s nice having someone of his talent on your team.

    Me: Could you give us a brief scouting-report of your teammate Anthony Rendon?

    A: During the Fall and Spring practices he was nursing his sprained ankle from the summer so I was never able to face him during our intrasquad games, so without actually being able to face him I am not able to give an accurate scouting-report.

    Me: What is Rendon like in the locker room? Is he a joker? A loner? Has he played any good practical jokes on you?

    A: Rendon is a very chill guy. He likes to joke around with everyone and everyone jokes around with him. He hasn’t played any jokes on me yet, but the season is long so he still has time

    Me: For fun, could you make a sales pitch to teams on Rendon's behalf?

    A: Anthony Rendon is the best thing to come into the baseball world. He has the heart, hustle, and skills to be one of the greatest players to play the game of baseball and a future Hall of Fame candidate. (Hope that’s good enough, maybe it’ll get some laughs) (Yeah, Austin, I think you'll make them laugh buddy)

    Me: With the NCAA changing the bats this year to protect pitchers there has been a lot of talk about the affects the change has had on the different statistics of hitters and pitchers. Could you give your impression of the new bats and how they may or may not influence on the game and results of pitchers and hitters?

    A: The coaches are always telling us pitchers that due to the new bats we really need to attack hitters because the ball wont be coming off as hard. But yes, the stats are down, especially the homerun counts. So maybe this is affecting how pitchers are now throwing to hitters, but without having experienced this level with the old bats it is hard for me to say.

    Me: Some pitchers have said that they have changed their approach in attacking hitters because of the new bats. Have you experienced a change in how you deal with or attack hitters when you are on the mound?

    A: I really don’t think about it when I pitch, I just go out there and throw my pitches and try to get and stay ahead of hitters. Like said previously without having experienced pitching against the old bats it is hard for me to say.

    Me: Final Question, Austin. How do you see your first season with Rice ending? Are you, Rendon, and team going to make a run at it?

    A: We all talk about the little steps it takes to making the College World Series. First starts with winning our conference, then hosting a regional and so on. We know we can’t think too far ahead so we are taking it every game and every series at a time. We really hope that we get and stay hot when it matters and hope to make a great run and in the end win it all.

    Thanks:
    On behalf of all the members of the Pittsburgh Sports Tavern I truly thank Austin for taking time out of his hectic schedule to sit down and chat. I, along with all of my fellow Pirate fans here at the Tavern, wish you the best of luck and the most continued success as you go forward. Feel free to stop by any time, not that there is time in the life of a college athlete.

    To follow Austin Kubitza simply follow the Friday night games of the Rice University Owl's baseball team. He'll be out there toeing the mound and doing what he does best. Austin faces the Green Wave this Friday evening as Rice hosts Tulane.
    Last edited by BigBen2112; Apr-15-2011 at 01:49 AM.
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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Nice!

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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Austin Kubitza = the one that got away.....

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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Quote Originally Posted by PittFaninVa View Post
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    Austin Kubitza = the one that got away.....
    Well this certainly seems correct. Like the Yankees and Cole...down the line we'll be very upset that we weren't able to get it done with Austin.

    However, with that said, the kid was very smart with how he went about his decision. There were things it wanted to work on and mature on...he wanted to experience collegiate life and collegiate athletics. There is something to be said for wanting to progress through the various stages of your life in some order like this...and it certainly has paid off for him.
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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    More reason to take Rendon! A "Chill" guy and future HOFer.

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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Benny, did you write this?................................excellent!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Remember, that which hath not killed you, will try again...................

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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    From everything I remember reading, the price for Kubitza was really high and with the way the Pirates go over slot, it had to be up there. Seems like the kid from this interview wanted to goto school and felt from a maturity level that was best for him.

    ... and he could easily end up getting more money in the draft when his time comes (cap on the draft or not).

    It would be nice to have his arm in the system developing along with all of the other H.S. arms we've drafted over the past couple of seasons.

    Great article/interview, Benny
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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    That was absolutely awesome Benny, as good as anything I've read anywhere.
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    Thanks guys. Austin may even stop by as he wanted to read the article. The kid is going to be a stud. It would be funny if in a couple years we drafted him in the first round...I take it there was/would be no block in doing so. He's very very good.
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    Yes, Crossbones, I wrote this. It was a pleasure to write as well.
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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBen2112 View Post
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    Yes, Crossbones, I wrote this. It was a pleasure to write as well.
    I agree with the others, VERY well done Benny. You asked honest, legitimate questions that were neither leading nor criticizing, yet still poignant. I wish half the interviews I read were done as well.

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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Please do more!

    You need to be a Pirates reporter of some kind.................how about an announcer? I have heard you explain your opinion before and you are very "air" worthy.
    Remember, that which hath not killed you, will try again...................

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    Haha. I have aspirations, but not for journalism. I really would like to catch on in a front office after law school. We'll see. That's a long way off. Right now I just like doing work and getting to know these guys...there are some awesome individuals out there.
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    Default Re: Interview with former Pirate's pick Austin Kubitza

    Well, I'm a fan of your writing, but as seen and read in another thread, I'm a John Wehner fan also!
    Remember, that which hath not killed you, will try again...................

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    Haha. I'll take it man.
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