TRENTON – Just about every young boy at some point has dreamed of playing on the biggest stage; emulating their favorite baseball stars in the backyard in situations that you could only find in a fairy tale. Earlier this week, the Yankees organization purchased the contract of 26-year old Riverhead, NY native David Kubiak from the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Independent Atlantic League and assigned him to Double-A Trenton.
“This has all been pretty exciting for me,” admitted Kubiak, who joined the Thunder on Friday night at ARM & HAMMER Park. “It’s nutty being a New York kid and getting signed by the Yankees. it’s pretty cool.”
Kubiak was a 2011 36th round draft selection by the Tampa Bay Rays out of the University of Albany. The imposing 6’7″ right-hander spent just one season in Rookie-ball with the Rays before spending the last four seasons pitching in Independent ball. The climb back into affiliated baseball has been a long and grueling journey that often times left Kubiak doubting that he would ever get another opportunity to fulfill his dream.
“It has definitely been a grind,” Kubiak said. “That word “grind” has been engraved into me for a while now, but I for sure thought that maybe my career was over after my time with the Rays.”
Kubiak added, “I was actually picked up by the Atlanta Braves for about a month before they said that they didn’t have any room for me. That was certainly frustrating, so I have just been grinding and getting back here now is awesome and a lot of fun.”
Growing up out on Long Island, Kubiak was a die-hard Yankee fan and dreamed of one day playing for his favorite team in the Bronx; so much so that he even has a tattoo of the Yankees logo on his left arm. His grandfather raised him on the Pinstripes and he has been a fan of the team as far back as he can recall.
“My grandfather is probably the biggest Yankee fan that I have ever met,” said Kubiak. “I was just kind of brought up into it and I have loved them forever, so being here is unreal.”
Bridgeport Pitching Coach Jesse Litsch first informed Kubiak of the Yankees interest in signing him before he finally got the phone call that he had been waiting four years to pick-up.
“Mr.Brian Cashman called me and told me that the organization would be purchasing my contract,” Kubiak explained. “That was a surreal moment for me. I’ve been watching him on TV since I was a kid talking about big league guys, so for him to call my phone to tell me he was purchasing my contract was special.”
In five professional seasons between affiliated Rookie-ball and Independent ball, Kubiak is a combined 18-12 with a 2.44 ERA; he has struck out 243 batters in 210 innings and has allowed just 177 hits over that span.
“I’m just a competitor. There’s nothing special about it; I am just going to come at you,” Kubiak said. “I don’t try to do too much, I just stay within myself and try to pitch to contact and let guys get themselves out. This game is hard enough so I try not to make it any more complicated or harder than it already is.”
Thunder Manager Bobby Mitchell is happy to have Kubiak aboard and is looking forward to seeing what he can do to bolster his already talented bullpen.
“We’re anxious to see him pitch,” Mitchell said. “He has good size; he is a big kid. I would like to get him into a low-pressure situation to start him off but I am definitely looking forward to seeing him.”
Whether or not Kubiak ever reaches the big leagues remains a question mark, but he is back in affiliated ball, wearing pinstripes as property of the organization that he grew up rooting for. The Bronx is closer now than it has ever been.