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Tigers make Rice pitcher fourth-round pick

DETROIT -- Rice University has generated a fair amount of high-end pitching talent in the Draft over the years. While Austin Kubitza doesn't appear to be a Jeff Niemann or Philip Humber type, he's shown an ability to match up against the best pitchers in the college game, serving typically as Rice's Friday starter.

The Tigers made the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander their fourth-round pick (126th overall) Friday. Kubitza struck out 125 batters in 100 innings in 16 starts. He's done so basically using two pitches, a fastball that sits in the upper 80s and can touch 90 mph with a ton of sink and a nasty slider that he has confidence in to throw in any count.

Kubitza does have a changeup, but never uses it. That lack of a third pitch, along with some command issues, has most thinking he's best-suited in a bullpen role in the future.

"We certainly think of him as a starter," Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said. "I think he does have a feel for a changeup, and again, he's another guy in this year's Draft that had unbelievable numbers, especially strikeout numbers."

He was drafted in the seventh round out of high school by the Pirates in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, but chose not to sign. He's set to face North Carolina State in the Super Regional Round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.

Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Nightengalejr.
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