Lubanski is closer to majors

The Kennedy-Kenrick graduate is playing triple-A ball in Omaha.

Posted: July 19, 2007

Chris Lubanski has taken another step toward achieving his lifelong dream of playing major-league baseball.

Lubanski, a former standout at Kennedy-Kenrick High in Norristown, was promoted on June 27 to the Omaha Royals, Kansas City's triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. He had been playing double-A ball for the Wichita Wranglers.

"Chris had a real good year last year and a very good first half this year," said J.J. Picollo, Kansas City's director of player development. "It's important to move guys up when they're confident and feeling good about themselves."

For Wichita, which competes in the Texas League, Lubanski batted .295 in 64 games this season. From the No. 3 spot in the order, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder had 71 hits in 241 at-bats, with a team-high 34 RBIs, 33 runs, 14 doubles, 3 triples and 9 home runs. He had a .361 on-base percentage.

For his first-half efforts in Wichita, Lubanski was selected to play in the Texas League All-Star Game.

"Whenever you can make an all-star team, no matter what level it is at, it's a great honor," the 22-year-old said.

Lubanski, The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania player of the year as a high school senior, was chosen fifth in the first round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Royals. A centerfielder at the start of his minor-league career, he was switched to left field while playing for Wichita.

"His defense has really improved," Picollo said. "He's learned how to play the angles better, and he's done a nice job of cutting off balls. He's been doing what a good leftfielder should do."

During last week's break for the triple-A All-Star Game, Lubanski and his girlfriend toured parts of Omaha. He is living in an extended-stay hotel, about 20 minutes away from the 9,441-seat Rosenblatt Stadium.

"It's probably the biggest city I've ever played in," said Lubanski, who two seasons ago played for the High Desert Mavericks, Kansas City's high-A affiliate in Adelanto, Calif., about an hour northeast of Los Angeles.

On July 2, in his fourth game with Omaha, Lubanski helped spark a 9-6 home victory over Oklahoma with a two-run home run to center field in the sixth inning. He went 2 for 4 and scored two runs.

Overall, though, Lubanski has struggled since making the jump to triple A. Through Sunday, the lefthanded hitter had a .170 batting average (8 for 47) with seven RBIs, eight runs, two doubles and a home run. He had struck out 14 times.

"You're dealing with more experienced and smarter pitchers at this level," Lubanski said. "Probably 75 to 80 percent of the pitchers I've faced have been with a major-league team at one time or another."

Said Picollo: "We project him as a corner outfielder. It's going to be his offense that's going to dictate whether he's an everyday player in the major leagues."

Bill McCarthy is another local product playing for Omaha. The 27-year-old outfielder and designated hitter starred at Washington Township High in South Jersey and later played at Rutgers.

Through Sunday, McCarthy, a sixth-round draft pick by Atlanta in 2001, was batting .276 (29 for 105) with 13 RBIs, 13 runs and five home runs.


Working on the Farm

Here are the area players in the minor leagues, with their teams and affiliations:

FIELD PLAYERS

Triple A

Ben Davis, Malvern Prep, Las Vegas 51s (Dodgers)

Chris Lubanski, Kennedy-Kenrick, Omaha (Royals)

Double A

Mike Costanzo, Archbishop Carroll, Reading (Phillies)

Carl Loadenthal, William Tennent, Mississippi (Braves)

Mark Minicozzi, Conestoga, Connecticut (Giants)

Single A

Rich Prall, C.B. West, Williamsport (Phillies)

Rookie

Tim Johnson, Wissahickon, Greenville (Astros)

PITCHERS

Triple A

Ryan Basner, West Chester East, Richmond (Braves)

Mark DiFelice, Haverford High, Nashville (Brewers)

Mike Koplove, Chestnut Hill Academy, Buffalo (Indians)

Scott Tyler, Downingtown, Carolina (Marlins)

Single A

Craig Clark, Spring-Ford, Salem-Keizer (Giants)

Gerard Oakes, Archbishop Carroll, Augusta (Giants)

Rookie

Mike Antonini, Cardinal O'Hara, Kingsport (Mets)

Frank Gailey, Arch. Carroll, GCL Blue Jays (Blue Jays)

Ryan Hodinka, Springfield-Delco, Johnson City (Cardinals)

Mike McCardell, West Chester Henderson, GCL Twins (Twins)

Billy Muldowney, West Chester East, AZL Cubs (Cubs)

FIELD PLAYERS

Triple A

Bill McCarthy, Washington Township, Omaha (Royals)

Single A

Todd Davison, St. Augustine Prep, Delmarva (Orioles)

Sean Doolittle, Shawnee, Kane County (Athletics)

Darren Ford, Vineland, Brevard County (Brewers)

Scott Knazek, Pemberton, Cedar Rapids (Angels)

Chris McConnell, Delsea, Wilmington (Royals)

Billy Rowell, Bishop Eustace, Delmarva (Orioles)

PITCHERS

Triple A

Shaun Babula, Burlington City, Charlotte (White Sox)

Dan Meyer, Kingsway, Sacramento (A's)

Blaine Neal, Bishop Eustace, Syracuse (Blue Jays)

Double A

Mike Flannery, St. Joseph, Midland (A's)

Single A

Andrew Bailey, Paul VI, Stockton (A's)

Zach Braddock, Gloucester Catholic, West Virginia (Brewers)

Greg Burke, Gloucester Catholic, Lake Elsinore (Padres)

Jon George, Camden Catholic, Modesto (Rockies)

Kevin Gunter, Buena, Dayton (Reds)

Mike Wlodarczyk, Shawnee, Vero Beach (Devil Rays)

Rookie

Nick Tyson, Timber Creek, Helena (Brewers)


Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019

or robrien@phillynews.com.

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