Being told you’re not wanted anymore is sobering for any professional athlete trying to make his way to the top.
When the Los Angeles Angels designated former Colleyville Heritage standout Kyle Kubitza for assignment on June 13, his career and goal went into suspension. The Angels took him off the 40-man roster and could either release him, trade him to another team or just return him to the minors.
Kubitza emerged as a utility player and proved himself worthy enough in 2015 that the Angels called him up twice. He got a taste of the big leagues in 19 games and 36 at bats. But his conversations with Angels hierarchy in spring training 2016 led to the feeling that it wasn’t clear where he stood. He started the season quickly at Triple-A Salt Lake City before falling into a slump.
He returned home and took cuts in the CHHS batting cages to keep everything as sharp as possible. However, the Rangers offered a second chance for him when they traded for him on June 21 for cash and immediately sent him to their Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock.
“I was surprised [by the designation for assignment], but it wasn’t too shocking either,” Kubitza told The Lonnquist Notes before he joined Round Rock in Oklahoma City. “You never want to be DFA’d because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
So far, the new opportunity has created a positive change. Kubitza was hitting .313 through his first five games and delivered a home run this past Saturday. That’s significant because he only has 40 long balls in his professional career.
Kubitza, 25, has taken on a different role in his career. Before the utility idea sprung, he was an infielder. But the Angels wanted him to play third base, second base, left field and first base. That appears what the Rangers want him to do after he visited with Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine. So far, he’s spent time at first, left and was also the designated hitter.
Organizations can never have enough depth at any position. When the Rangers have players like Jurickson Profar in front of you, it makes it tough. However, nothing’s set in stone. Injuries or other players not performing can lead to an opportunity.
Kubitza understands that. He recognized it for the brief time he was in the big leagues and what it takes to stay there.
“It is a faster game and changes from person to person,” he said. “It’s how you handle it. You have to adapt. It’s kind of like when you’re in high school. You’re trying to calm yourself down.
“The mentality of playing multiple positions is just something you have to develop with the way you prepare. You always have to look around. When you’re in the infield, you have to know how much time you have to throw the ball. If you’re in the outfield and a ball is hit in the gap with a runner on base, you have to have a feeling where he is on the bases.”
Whatever the result is with this move to the Rangers will be determined by the impression he makes. For now, Kubitza will get his four plate appearances and fielding chances.
“You definitely take this day by day,” Kubitza said. “I’m just going to do what’s best and see how well that turns into me getting another chance to get to the big leagues. I’m not looking ahead.”
Bolomboy realizes NBA dream
Northeast Tarrant County’s presence in the professional athletics scene enjoyed another moment last week when Keller Central product Joel Bolomboy was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the June 23 NBA draft. Bolomboy put together an outstanding four-year career at Weber State.
The Jazz should have known him quite well since Ogden and Salt Lake City are within 38 miles of each other. Bolomboy led Weber State to the NCAA tournament averaging 17.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game and was the Big Sky 2015-16 Player of the Year.
“I was just more than happy to hear my name called,” Bolomboy told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I was confident that I was going to go late in the first round, or early in the second. But this is all just God’s plan — I just left everything in God’s hands. I’m more than thankful for it, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to come back and play for the Utah Jazz.”
Said Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey to Salt Lake City TV station KSL: “I can’t say enough about Weber State and [head coach] Randy [Rahe] and that program, and Joel is the latest example of their development. Certainly that is what we have to do here, as well. We identify with that, and we are very happy to bring him into the program for a lot of different reasons.”