Kris Bubic has been one of the best draft picks for the Kansas City Royals and led the minors in strikeouts. I had the chance to catch up with him.
Selected as the 40th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Kris Bubic has been everything that the Kansas City Royals could have hoped for when they called his name. The former Stanford product was named to the All-Pac 12 team as a junior with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts. In his final season in Palo Alto, Bubic threw 86.0 innings and struck out 101 batters while allowing just 32 free passes.
The Royals selected five pitchers with their first five picks of that draft, in what is becoming well-known as the “fab-five”. This group also includes Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, and Jonathan Bowlan. It could very well be the Royals rotation in just a couple of seasons and Bubic is making every case for the Royals to bring up sooner than expected. In 2019, Bubic led all of the minor leagues in strikeouts split between Single-A Lexington and High-A Wilmington.
His most recent start came in Game 3 of the Carolina League semifinals where he had 11 strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work. I had the chance to catch up with the Royals 6th best prospect.
Q: I know it’s common for college batters to play in wood-bat leagues during the summer to help improve their draft stock. Was there anything specific you were working on in summer 2016 with Newport and 2017 with Yarmouth-Dennis?
A: With Newport in 2016, I was honestly just trying to get some consistent innings under my belt. I was actually in the bullpen for the majority of the summer. During my freshman year in college I was constantly shuffled around between being the Sunday starter, midweek starter, or lefty out of the bullpen so right off the bat I got experience with different roles on the pitching staff. 2017 in the Cape with YD was a little different.
I had established myself as a starter during my sophomore year so I just wanted to continue the momentum I had created that spring. Also, as most who watched or faced me know this pretty well, I was only a fastball-changeup guy. Granted I was able to still pitch well only really having 2 consistent pitches my entire college career, but I just wasn’t ever able to get comfortable with a 3rd pitch at the time.
So that summer was big for the development of my breaking ball. I threw what I called a “soft spike” curveball that summer because I brought up my index finger a little bit on the ball but didn’t really tuck it or dig into the ball. I saw flashes that it could be really good but I just had to keep throwing it in games to get competitive reps with it.
The last thing I’ll say about that summer, which was arguably the most important, was pitching inside with the fastball. Most college coaches just rely on most pitches down and away, but for me, it was a lot more advantageous to learn how to go hard in with my fastball and then soft away with my changeup.