Kyle Drabek didn't burst onto the professional scene last season, primarily because of control issues. This season is different though as the 19 year old has worked to conquer his control demons and is pitching well at Lakewood.
The Lakewood BlueClaws had their backs to the wall going into the second game of a day/night doubleheader following a 6-3 loss in the day portion of the twin-bill. The Greensboro Grasshoppers came into town and took three straight games from the BlueClaws going into Thursday nights game. The bullpen was becoming overworked and the Grasshoppers were looking to bury the BlueClaws in the sand. Manager Steve Roadcap needed a strong outing from his starter, Kyle Drabek
, and he did not disappoint. Drabek gave Roadcap exactly what he needed; a stellar outing that propelled the BlueClaws to a 2-1 victory. "Drabek gave us a strong effort and it's exactly what I needed", said Roadcap on the young right-hander's effort. Drabek's strong outing was his best of the year and he is looking to build off that start as the season progresses.
Drabek, a first round pick a year ago, is the Phillies second ranked prospect in the organization according to Baseball America. The 19 year old from Woodlands, Texas is working to find his way in professional baseball. Drabek started six games a year ago for the Gulf Coast League Phillies going 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA in 23.1 innings. Although Drabek's stuff, a mid-90s fastball and a sharp breaking ball, was never in doubt, his command was certainly a cause for concern. Drabek admitted his control needed work, "Last year with the GCL Phillies I was all over the place."
Drabek has worked hard on his command and he showcased his progress Thursday night against Greensboro when he worked 7 2/3 innings, surrendering one run on two hits with 7 strikeouts. "I was able to throw good inside strikes with my fastball and I got a lot of groundball outs," said Drabek on his outing Thursday night. He was previously unable to get the fastball inside on hitters and struggled with leaving the ball over the middle of the plate. Drabek was limited to 100 pitches on the night, coming out in the eighth with two outs and the bases empty. "I'm still learning and most importantly trying to stay healthy," said Drabek on his perspective of the 2007 season. He is also coming to grips with the pressure of being a first round pick and isn't fazed by the expectations bestowed upon him. "I'm just like everyone else here," said Drabek on being the potential future of the Phillies pitching staff. He is just a 19 year old kid having fun playing the game of baseball. Manager Steve Roadcap summed it up best, "If Kyle keeps working hard and continually improves, the future is his."
Drabek is currently 3-0 with a 4.25 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance. In his only relief appearance of the year Drabek struck out the side. He has pitched 36 innings and has notched 36 Ks while issuing 13 walks and opponents are hitting .263 against him.
Kyle Drabek's career stats
|'06 Gulf Coast League
The BlueClaws are currently 16-16 on the year following a disappointing series with Greensboro where the BlueClaws dropped 4 of 5 games. The BlueClaws hit the road after Friday nights' game for their third straight weekend trip to Lake County.
Former New York Yankees first round pick and current BlueClaw Carl Henry, Jr. has been shuffled to the outfield. Henry was drafted as a shortstop, but struggled at the position before being moved to third base where his struggles continued with the glove. He will receive playing time in leftfield in hopes of more success with his defense.
Edgar Garcia was named Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Week following a strong performance versus the Lexington Legends. Garcia tossed seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with seven strikeouts. Garcia is 1-1 on the year with 2.95 ERA in six starts.
Jason Donald has been the BlueClaws' top hitter this season and earned two awards this past week. Donald was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Week and the South Atlantic League Hitter of the Week. Donald is currently batting .349 with 3 HR and 24 RBI.
Ronald Hill has assumed the team's closer role from Andrew Cruse who has struggled in recent outings. Hill is 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA and 5 saves.