Kyle Kubitza has been playing baseball long enough to know that a slow start is not the end of the world. Still, the first impression he had been making at Double-A Mississippi was not one he could smile much about.
The Braves' No. 11 prospect gave himself reason to grin Saturday, launching a pair of solo homers -- his first long balls at Double-A -- to power Mississippi to a 6-3 win at Pensacola.
"I mean, I got off to a slow start," said Kubitza, who left the yard in the second and eighth innings. "I've slowly been working on stuff in the cage. To see that transfer into games lately is great. The past few games, I've just been feeling a lot more comfortable up there. It's nice to have your hard work pay off. You don't always think it's going to happen in one game, but it's nice to get those."
In 18 games before Saturday, Kubitza had struggled to the tune of a .200/.279/.350 slash line. He had struck out 23 times while drawing only seven walks.
The 23-year-old third baseman picked up two more strikeouts against the Blue Wahoos, but his first and second Southern League homers did more than enough to leave him satisfied.
"Yeah, it is a relief," he said. "I expect of myself to go out there and be able to do that. So to go out there and do it is reassuring. It definitely is a relief. You're not necessarily going up there thinking home run, but to put a good swing on a ball and have it go over the fence is something special. Definitely a gratifying feeling."
Kubitza also had multi-hit games on April 22 and April 13 and is riding a five-game hitting streak that's boosted his average to .215.
Atlanta selected Kubitza in the third round of the 2011 Draft out of Texas State University. He batted .260 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs in 132 games last season at Class A Advanced Lynchburg. The Texas native, who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, has appeared in four Grapefruit League games -- two this year, two last.
Kubitza's roundtrippers were part of a Braves' power surge that also featured a leadoff homer by Mycal Jones and a blast in the second by Braeden Schlehuber. Mississippi tied a single-game club record with four homers, accomplishing the feat for the first time since July 15, 2007, at Montgomery.
"The team's gotten off to a slow start, but everybody's working," Kubitza said. "It's just good for people to see what they've been working on come to fruition. We're looking forward to a really good year this year."
The Braves relied on two pitchers, both of them starters. Piggybacking Jason Hursh's outing, Aaron Northcraft went out for the sixth and struck out four over four perfect innings. He and Hursh, Atlanta's third-ranked prospect who allowed three runs -- one earned -- over five frames, combined to retire the last 19 Blue Wahoos.
"It definitely gives the offense confidence to go in there and get a few runs," Kubitza said. "It was a great team win."