Two Braves Prospects Vie For Time At Hot Corner





ATLANTA—The Braves faced a dilemma this spring when two of the organization's top third-base prospects appeared ready for an assignment to low Class A Rome.

As the calendar turned to May, Brandon Drury and Kyle Kubitza had proven capable of coexisting in Rome, though they had gone in different directions at the plate.

Kubitza batted .259/.364/.541 with 13 extra-base hits, including four homers, through 85 at-bats. The 21-year-old made all his appearances in the field at third base, where he flashed solid leather.

"I feel like things are going well in my first full season," said Kubitza, a third-round pick last year out of Texas State. "At the beginning of the year I was missing on a lot of fastballs. That led me to really start focusing on getting ahead in the count so I could sit on those pitches a little more often.

"Strikeouts are going to happen (he had 26 through 22 games), but I am trying to cut down on those as well. Right now my focus is on hitting the ball hard and trying to make things happen."

Drury opened the season in a 16-for-94 (.170) funk while spending about twice as many games at first base as third. Last year's Rookie-level Appalachian League co-player of the year said he's not worried about his slow start.

"The big thing is to not press," said Drury, a 13th-round pick out of high school in Oregon in 2010. "I feel great, and I know the numbers are going to be there at the end of the year."

Young South Atlantic League teams, like Rome, tend to struggle during the first half while players make adjustments to the higher level of competition.

"I've learned a lot and worked really hard over the past two years," said Drury, 19. "I feel like my game has gotten a lot better. I feel comfortable at both third and first. The big thing is I just want to be in the lineup."

WIGWAM WISPS

• Catcher/left fielder Evan Gattis earned a quick promotion to Double-A Mississippi after batting .385/.468/.821 in 78 at-bats for high Class A Lynchburg. He led the Carolina League in home runs (nine) and RBIs (29) when he left.

• Making a repeat appearance in the South Atlantic League, 20-year-old lefthander Carlos Perez lost his spot in the Rome rotation after going 0-3, 15.23 and allowing 40 baserunners in 13 innings during his first four starts.