Dave Kubiak has a New York Yankees logo tattooed on the inside of his left arm, but the Tampa Bay Rays are undoubtedly close to his heart.
That must have been the case in June when the Rays told Kubiak that they wanted him. Tampa Bay picked the SUNY/Albany pitcher in the 36th round of the Major League Baseball draft. He was the 1,109th player selected.
Kubiak greeted the news of his selection with “a lot of excitement, but I guess a lot of relief.” Discussing his baseball future, he said: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun ride.”
Kubiak, a Jamesport resident, played for the Southold/Greenport Clippers when he attended Southold High School. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander, was Albany’s ace pitcher, starting 14 games on the mound this past season. He recorded a 4.72 earned run average as a senior and led the Great Danes’ pitching staff with 73 strikeouts. He threw five complete games, including one shutout, and allowed 43 earned runs in 82 innings of work. Kubiak finished his four-year career as the Albany program leader with 227 strikeouts and 278 innings pitched. His 82 innings this past season were good for second on the school’s single-season record board.
A ground-ball pitcher, Kubiak’s pitching arsenal includes a two-seam fastball, four-seam cutter, curveball, changeup and splitter.
“I’m not going to throw 89, 91 [miles per hour] and overpower anybody any more,” he said. “I’ll strike some people out, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m pitching to contact. … Make them get thrown out. It’s a hard game as it is, don’t make it harder.”
This past summer Kubiak was promoted from the Gulf Coast Rays in the Gulf Coast League to the Princeton Rays in the Appalachian League. He posted a 2-1 record at Princeton with a 3.26 earned run average, three saves, three walks and 27 strikeouts.
“Everyone is just very, very good,” he said. “Every player makes the routine plays look routine. They look so athletic and everybody is so fast here.”
And what about that Yankees tattoo on his arm?
Kubiak said it’s a tribute to his late grandfather, Arthur Phillips. Phillips, who died last year, was a big Yankees fan. If he was alive today, there is little doubt, however, that he would be cheering for the Rays as well.