Editor's note: Hello, Halos Heaven faithful, and welcome to our first edition of Bees Waxing. I’d like to introduce you all to Nick Stephens, a fellow SBNation writer who normally covers the Rockies, but he lives in Salt Lake City and gets his live baseball fix by attending Bees games. Nick approached me with the idea of expanding his baseball writing by being our main man in Smith’s Ballpark, regularly talking to future (and former) Angels hopefuls and reporting it all back to us here at Halos Heaven. So please welcome Nick, as we look forward to his interviews and dispatches from Salt Lake. The first installment features a quick interview with 3B Kyle Kubitza, who we find grew up a fan of the very player we’re all hoping he can handily replace. Take it away, Nick.
(Kyle Kubitza) KK: It's been good. Obviously, I'm seeing the ball good, I'm seeing it well. You know, it's still a long season, that's kind of what I learned last year. Last year I got off to a pretty slow start, and I was able to turn it around. This year, I'm just trying to stay consistent throughout the whole year. And as far as to what I attribute to my success, I'm just trying to do the same thing every day. I'm not trying to change what I do and not trying to do too much sometimes. Like I said before, last year when things were going bad was when I was trying to do too much. I'm just trying to stay within myself and try to play my game.
NS: You spent your first four years of pro-ball with the Braves organization. Have there been any differences in hitting philosophy between the Braves and Angel’s organization?
KK: Umm, Not really. When you get up here everyone has the same ideas; professional hitting. Maybe a little more aggressive, but as far as that, no, not really. They just let me do what I do best.
NS: That leads me into my next question. You've always been known as that player who can take a walk and steal a base. However, this season with the Bees, you've walked less and only have one stolen base. Are the Angels having you focus specifically on one thing?
KK: No, not really. I just kind of take what pitchers give me. But yeah, there's been some at bats where I should have taken some walks and I kinda chased some pitches. As far as stealing bases, we got a good line up, we got guys like Effren Navaro and Grant Green and all these guys hitting behind you, you don't want to run into outs. Especially when Effren is hitting .400 this year, there's no point. He's hitting doubles everywhere and hopefully I can try and score from first base. But yeah, if they want me to steal a base, I'll go out there and steal a bag. But yeah, like I said, I probably need to get my walks up more and start swinging at more strikes [Laughs].
NS: Which area of your game this season are you most proud of?
KK: This year? I guess my doubles. [Laughs] I know I've hit a lot of doubles. I don’t know, like I said earlier I'm just trying to be a complete player, you know? I'm just still trying to work on my craft. If you're not in the big leagues, you're in the minor leagues. And so uh, yeah, just trying to be the best player I can be and hopefully when I get my call to the big leagues I’ll be able to stick up there and do well up there.
NS: In an interview the other day, Scott Kazmir talked about the punishing travel schedule in the PCL; early morning and late night flights, long layovers, long bus trips and all that. How do you deal with the travel? Any tricks on keeping sleep, exercise, and your diet consistent?
KK: Umm... well with sleep you just gotta take what you can get. When you're traveling that much it's easy to fall asleep. It's more of the waking up at four in the morning. But no it's just stuff you can control and that's really something you can't control. So when you're worrying about travel, you're not worrying about the game. So yeah, you just take what you can get and if you gotta wake up at four o'clock, you gotta wake up at four o'clock and find a way to play that day.
NS: With all the travel you obviously face a lot of pitchers. Is there any one pitcher that stands out that has the filthiest stuff? One that you struggle against?
KK: [Laughs] Uhh.. There’s a couple. I mean, one in particular? You don't like to admit it, you know what I mean? [Laughs] But yeah I can't pull a name off the top of my head right now.
NS: The PCL is known for its high elevation parks. There’s a lot of home runs hit here. Have you noticed any difference in pitches breaking differently, or balls being hit further?
KK: You know, I don't know, it's tough. I guess you just see what you see and go from there. But whether they do break less or more, I'm just trying to hit it. Some break more, some break less. I make some pitches look really good and they make me look really good. So yeah.
NS: With the big league clubs struggles at third base this season, how do you feel about your chances of possibly making it up there before the season ends?
KK: You know, David Freese is a really good player. I grew up watching him. I was a Rangers fan growing up, so I watched him destroy the Rangers in the World Series. I mean, he's a great player. He's going to turn it around. He's a professional player. He's a good guy. I'm just trying to get as good as I can down here so that way hopefully if I get a chance up there, I can show what I can do.
NS: Thanks for your time, Kyle. I really appreciate it.
KK: No problem. Thank you.
The Angels current third baseman, David Freese, has been struggling this season with a slash line of .233/.287/.440 and it could eventually lead to the promotion of Kubitza this season. Kubitza is absolutely raking in Triple-A and has hit 17 doubles this year, more than half of the amount he hit all last season. From my time watching Kubitza this year, you can definitely tell he's ready to make an impact with the big league club.