Phillies Prospect #8: Kyle Drabek

For Kyle Drabek, the news has been almost as much about his personality as it has about his talent. A rough season in the Gulf Coast League didn't help that, but a strong showing in 2007 will erase a lot of the warts that Drabek is supposed to have.

Kyle Drabek's debut season didn't go quite the way he would have hoped. Drafted as an 18 year old, Drabek posted a 7.71 ERA in six starts with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. The performance only added fuel to the fire for critics who thought Drabek shouldn't have been the Phillies first round pick in last June's draft. Back then, the issue was Drabek's attitude and alleged brushes with the law for underage drinking and other issues. Now that he's officially in the Phillies organization, fans are simply waiting to see what he can do on a baseball diamond and what it will mean for the future of the Phillies.

Looking only at the numbers, there would be concerns about Drabek, but the Phillies look deeper than that, just as they did when they drafted him. There is in fact, plenty of definite talent in Drabek and it seems to just be a matter of time before he can put everything together. This spring, he was in major league camp only because of a contractual clause that insisted he be there. The Phillies gave him a start in an outing against Florida State and after some early jitters, he pitched pretty well. It gave hope for the future for Phillies fans who are wary of Drabek being a part of the organization.

Kyle Drabek's career stats

'06 Gulf Coast League 1 3 7.71 0 6 6 23.1 33 24 20 2 11 14

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the first round of the 2006 Draft out of The Woodlands High School in Woodlands, Texas.

Repertoire: Scouts were willing to talk openly about just how good Kyle Drabek's curve ball is. Some went so far as to say it was among the best of any high school pitcher they had seen. Others didn't go quite that far, but noted how effective it was and preached that it's only going to get better. Already, Drabek throws a fastball in the mid-90s and the Phillies have worked with him to get a little more movement on the pitch to make it that much more effective. There is still some work to do with his change-up, but it's coming along and should show some improvement. With his natural velocity, Drabek could be a killer with a good change-up.

Pitching: If you want to know how Drabek pitches, think of his father Doug and then flash to the complete opposite. The younger Drabek has a higher release point and seems to be throwing down hill. He's extremely competitive - perhaps too competitive - and it gets him into trouble at times. There is no denying that Drabek has a temper and can come unglued if things don't go well. Everybody around him is working to get that settled down and he'll be a better pitcher if he can control his emotions a little more. Considering all of the verbal jabs that have been thrown at Drabek though, he's handled things pretty well and seems to be learning some self-restraint.

Projection: All of the tools are there for Drabek to eventually pitch as a number one starter. He doesn't have the size that the Phillies love to see in a pitcher, but everything else is there. Keep in mind that this kid just turned 19 in December and will need some work. He was overwhelmed with everything last summer and figures to be a different pitcher this time around. The Phillies are flirting with the idea of starting him out at Lakewood and having him pitch from Opening Day on through the rest of the summer. The determining factor will be whether or not they think he needs extra work in extended camp or if he can  handle the rigors of a full-season league without the added instruction.

ETA: Everybody wants to know when a first round pick will be ready to play. The Phillies are generally pretty cautious, but when the talent is there, they allow players to move quicker. Under Pat Gillick, caution hasn't been thrown to the wind, but it's not as choking as it once was. Three years from now, we'll likely be talking about where in the Phillies rotation Drabek will fit. Things would have to go exceptionally well to accelerate the timetable, so don't look for him in the next couple of seasons.


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