Kris Bubic had a career high 12 strikeouts against the Columbus Fireflies on Friday night last week. Bubic was the fourth pitcher selected by the Royals in last year’s draft. He was the 40th overall player selected. Bubic is a left-hander from Stanford University and pitched as a 20-year-old in the tough altitudes and winds of the Pioneer League last season. Despite the tough environment, he had a 12.6 K/9 rate and nearly 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. So far this season, Bubic has 27 Ks and 4 walks in 16.0 innings. This is a very good ratio and an exorbitant amount of strikeouts for just 16.0 innings. After doing the math really quick, it looks like Bubic is producing 15.19 K/9 and just 2.25 BB/9.
I started watching this game the day after it happened. Then I got overly busy and didn’t get back to it until this morning. I read through my notes, and decided I’d just re-watch everything, re-note everything, and see how they ended up similar and different.
Bubic struck out the side in the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th innings. He was ahead of hitters all night and didn’t allow a walk.
Stuff. In this game, Bubic seemed to have solid control of his fastball. The fastball was working 88-90 on the stadium gun (I’m relying on that because I wasn’t there and don’t have any idea on the gun at Whitaker Bank Stadium’s reliability) up until the 4th inning. At that point, Bubic seemed to dig into an extra storage of fastball velocity and started working 90-92. The fastball had some arm side run to it.
Bubic threw the change up sparingly in this start and it was 10-12 mph slower than the fastball.
Bubic used his curve quite a bit in this start and it had good glove side break and worked 77-80 mph. Hitters did not seem to pick it up very well when he threw it. The break was quick and had good shape. The curve looked to be 1-7 from the hitters perspective and just kept biting down and in to the RHHs.
Approach. Bubic used his fastball away almost the entire night to get ahead of hitters. Once he was ahead of them, he used the fastball in to put them away. There were at least four instances of strike threes to RHHs where he started the ball at the hitters front hip and it ran back across the inside corner. There were also several times he tried to go up in the zone to produce a swinging strike three and was successful at least twice.
Against the few LHHs in the Fireflys lineup, Bubic used the curve mostly as a chase pitch. He would start it in the zone and try to run it off the plate. I know he throws it for a strike, but in this outing he seemed to use it more as a chase pitch.
Against RHHs, the curve was used down and in when Bubic had two strikes trying to throw it on the back foot of the batter. He produced several strikeouts by this means as well.
Bubic did not use his change much, but I’m guessing that’s because he was ahead of so many hitters. From what I gathered, he wanted to use the change up more when he was behind in the count in this game. He wasn’t behind often, but he did use this approach a time or two. The change was 78 when I got a velocity reading on it.
Mechanics. Bubic uses a hybrid stance when he is in the wind up. He is smooth starting with his hands together and resting basically on his belly button. He lifts his hands right before he begins his delivery and keeps them together and compact until he begins going to the plate. At that point, he really emphasizes his front arm bringing his glove high out in front of him as he goes to the plate. The glove provides some deception for the hitters because the ball comes from almost behind it.
Out of the stretch, he uses a leg lift and still throws that glove high and in front of him on the pitch.
His mechanics are very repeatable and not high stress. He is smooth and very advanced with his mechanics.
Overall. I was impressed that Bubic was ahead of so many hitters in this game. He attacked all night and took advantage of the Fireflys. He had a game plan and followed it to the letter.
What I didn’t get to see what a team adjust their approach against him forcing him to adjust to them. I am interested to see what it looks like when Bubic isn’t so dominate with his fastball early. The kid can pitch and he fills up the zone. I think right now, he is better than the Low-A level and need to move to Wilmington quickly to get more of a challenge. He needs to see hitters who are adjusting to him as the game wears on and must be challenged to adjust back.
Bubic had three serviceable pitches in this game and showed why he was the 40th player taken overall in last year’s draft during this start. He was ahead often, improved his stuff as the game moved along, and finished his 81-pitch outing strong. Bubic was composed and in control the entire game and I’m looking forward to watching more of his starts.
Photo taken from MiLB.com and no name was given credit. It just says Lexington Legends where the credit goes.