- Full name Kyle Eric Lobstein
- Born 08/12/1989 in Flagstaff, AZ
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Coconino
- Debut 08/23/2014
Drafted in the 2nd round (47th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 (signed for $1,500,000).
View Draft ReportLobstein emerged on the summer showcase circuit last year, showing off the cleanest arm and delivery of any starting pitcher in the '08 draft class. BA ranked him as the No. 2 prospect at the Tournament of Stars, where he popped up from under the radar to make USA Baseball's junior national team. He followed that with a turn as the No. 1 prospect at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, and he committed to Arizona as a two-way player. He flashed an average fastball that bumped 92 mph, a promising curveball with great spin and a solid-average circle changeup. His arm still works just as well this spring, and his 6-foot-3, 185-pound athletic frame remains projectable, but Lobstein hasn't dominated inferior northern Arizona competition, and scouts' ardor for him had cooled. His fastball was topping out at 90 mph and usually sitting at 87-88, fringe-average even for a lefthander. Despite his clean arm, his velocity hasn't jumped, and neither of his secondary pitches have been quite as sharp as they were last summer. Several scouts echoed the same phrase for Lobstein: He just hasn't turned the corner. Some scouts wonder if he has enough killer instinct but cautioned that Lobstein could just be pitching to the level of his competition. A team with extra picks is expected to gamble on Lobstein toward the back of the first round or in the supplemental round, but area scouts cautioned that it could take a seven-figure signing bonus to keep Lobstein from pitching (and hitting) for the Wildcats next spring.
Organization Prospect Rankings
When the Rays left Lobstein off their 40-man roster following the 2012 season, the Mets picked him in the Rule 5 draft. They turned around and sold him to the Tigers, who traded Curt Casali to Tampa Bay before the 2013 season to be keep Lobstein without Rule 5 restriction. The Tigers brought him up from Triple-A Toledo in to be their fifth starter in September 2014, and he held his own in that role for the rest of the season. Lobstein doesn't have a plus pitch, so he relies on keeping hitters off balance by mixing his stuff and moving the ball around the strike zone. His fastball sits 86-90 mph, and he usually tries to keep the pitch down and on the outer third of the plate. He throws a tight cutter at 83-86 mph that was effective against major league hitters and a good weapon against both righties and lefties. His 78-82 mph changeup is an average pitch he mainly uses when he's facing righthanded hitters. Lobstein also flips an occasional 74-78 mph curveball in when he's facing a lefty to give them another look. Lobstein has a chance to be a No. 5 starter, though he could end up shuttling between Detroit and Toledo.
The Rays had high hopes for Lobstein when they drafted him out of high school in the second round of the 2008 draft and signed him for $1.5 million. His stuff never ticked up like Tampa Bay hoped, however, and they chose not to protect him on the 40-man roster after the 2012 season. The Mets took Lobstein in the Rule 5 draft and sold him to the Tigers, who worked out a trade with the Rays just before the 2013 season to retain him, sending catcher Curt Casali to Tampa Bay. Lobstein has easy mechanics, a loose arm action and the ball comes out of his hand cleanly, but he lacks the arm speed for an average fastball, settling in at 85-90 mph. He doesn't have an out pitch, so scouts are split on his best secondary offering, but most prefer his changeup, an average pitch with solid fade. He throws a slider and a curveball, but they're fringy. Lobstein's lack of velocity gives him little margin for error, so he has to work down, keep the ball away and spot his fastball to have success. Like Jose Alvarez, Lobstein could be a No. 5 starter or a swingman, though some scouts think he'd have more success as a reliever if he doesn't have to go through a lineup multiple times.
Expectations have been high for Lobstein ever since the Rays made him the 47th overall pick in the 2008 draft and gave him an over-slot $1.5 million baseball. After touching the low 90s on the showcase circuit prior to his senior year of high school, he hasn't displayed that type of velocity since. He has reached Double-A and developed into a consistent innings-eater, but that wasn't enough for Tampa Bay to protect him on its 40-man roster after the 2012 season. The Mets took him in the major league Rule 5 draft and sold him to the Tigers in a prearranged deal. Per Rule 5 guidelines, Detroit must keep him on its major league roster throughout 2013, or else put him on waivers and offer him back to the Rays for half his $50,000 draft price. Lobstein has learned how to pitch with a below-average fastball. He throws with flawless mechanics and has good feel for pitching. His fastball resides in the upper 80s and is more notable for its movement and deception. His upper-70s curveball has sharp downward break, and he uses a solid changeup to keep hitters off balance. He doesn't project as more than a back-of-the-rotation starter unless more velocity kicks in, but Lobstein does have the craftiness to pitch in the majors.
The Rays gave Lobstein $1.5 million as a second-round pick in 2008 because they liked his feel for pitching and projected that he would add to a fastball that dipped to 87-88 mph during his high school senior season. Though he's athletic and his body has room to add more strength, Lobstein's heater hasn't improved. His fastball has good angle, some deception and late movement, but it sat at 86-87 mph and didn't feature much sink in 2010. Tampa Bay still looks at his maturing frame and easy delivery and thinks he'll gain some more velocity, but several scouts outside the organization disagree. Lobstein has good command, particularly for a young lefty. His high-70s curveball shows a sharp break at times, and he also demonstrates some aptitude for throwing a changeup. The Rays should have a better idea of what the future holds for Lobstein after he spends 2011 in high Class A.
After bringing in Lobstein for a $1.5 million bonus at the signing deadline in 2008, the Rays received their first significant look at the lefthander last summer. They were pleased with the early returns. Lobstein seemed to get stronger as the season progressed, tossing a pair of seven-inning shutouts in August. A former two-way player who had committed to Arizona before he signed with Tampa Bay, Lobstein has an ideal pitcher's frame with an easy arm action and flawless mechanics. He has an advanced feel for pitching, good overall command and impressive mound presence, which reminds some scouts of a young Andy Pettitte. Lobstein's fastball is inconsistent, fluctuating from 85-88 mph to 89-91, but either way it's effective because of its movement and deception. The Rays believe his velocity will settle in the low 90s once his body matures. His curveball features a sharp downhill break in the upper 70s. He shows good feel for the changeup but is working to improve its depth and fade. If the complete package comes together, Lobstein will be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the major leagues. He'll open 2010 in low Class A.
The Rays entered the spring with Lobstein on their short list of potential players for the first overall pick in 2008. His stock dropped when his fastball velocity fell to 87-88 mph in the weeks leading up to the draft, but scouting director R.J. Harrison was thrilled when Lobstein was still on the board with the first pick of the second round. Harrison, who lives in Arizona, had followed Lobstein throughout his high school career and fell in love with his easy delivery, smooth arm action and big league body years ago. He had committed to Arizona as a twoway player but bypassed college for a $1.5 million bonus. Lobstein's fastball has been clocked as high as 92, and his athleticism and projectability give reason to believe that he'll grow into plus velocity. He's not worried about the radar gun, telling area scout Jason Durocher that he just throws hard enough to get batters out. Lobstein does a good job of mixing his fastball with a promising curveball and a solid-average changeup. He had the best command among high school pitchers in the 2008 draft, a tribute to his feel, mechanics and athleticism. He didn't pitch professionally after signing on the Aug. 15 deadline, but he showed Tampa Bay everything it hoped to see during instructional league. The Rays usually bring their high school pitchers along very slowly, so he'll probably make his pro debut in Rookie ball. At the same time, he's more polished than most prepsters and could move quickly once he gets going.
Minor League Top Prospects
Lobstein's stock soared on the showcase circuit before his senior year of high school, but his velocity dipped the following spring and he slipped to the 47th overall pick. The Rays signed him for $1.5 million and sent him to Hudson Valley for his pro debut this summer. He ranked fifth in the NY-P in strikeouts (74 in 73 innings) and eighth in ERA (2.58). Lobstein sat around 87-88 mph as a high school senior but worked in the 89-90 range at times this summer, topping out at 91 occasionally. Other times, he worked at 85-88. His fastball plays up because of its life and deception. "It comes out of his hand so easy, and it looks like he's not throwing hard, but then the ball's on you," Williams said. "His windup motion is pretty slow and easy, there's nothing violent about it, and then at the last second it's out of his hand with some giddy-up." Lobstein's size, clean arm action and textbook delivery suggest projection, but some scouts think his mechanics are too manufactured and that he'll never have better than an average fastball. He's always around the plate with three pitches, and his 78-79 mph downer curveball is a solid-average offering. His changeup could develop into an average pitch. He shows little emotion on the mound, and some evaluators are turned off by Lobstein's body language.