Phillies Prospect #7: Kyle Drabek

Kyle Drabek was showing the kind of progress that everybody expected him to show last season, but injuries kept cropping up along the way. Then, came the news that he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery and his season was abruptly ended.

Acquired: Selected by the Phillies in the 1st round of the 2006 Draft.

B: R T: R / Height: 6' 1"  Weight: 190 lbs.

Birth Date: December 8,1987

2007 Team: Lakewood (11 g)

Games/Games Started in 2007: 11 g / 10 gs

School: Woodlands High School (TX)

Last Year's Ranking: #8

Why he moved from #8 to #7: We know, we know, how can a pitcher who had his season cut short by Tommy John surgery have moved up a notch in the rankings. Part of it is by default; other pitchers struggled mightily and were knocked down by those numbers. The other reason is that Kyle Drabek showed two things last season. First, he was putting up decent - not stunning - numbers at Lakewood in his first full-season league when he got hurt and second, his attitude took a giant leap. Even in the face of adversity, the famous temper and attitude that Drabek had been haunted by when he was drafted was under control for the most part. That's a huge part of Drabek's development and he handled it well.

Repertoire: Keep in mind, that Tommy John surgery can change how and what a pitcher throws when he's healthy again. Prior to the surgery, Drabek had a curve that was nasty, filthy or whatever other word or cliché you want to use to describe it. It was easily better than some pitchers who are already in the majors and better than a kid coming out of high school should ever be able to throw a curve. He also combined that with a mid-90s fastball that had a little late movement to it and the Phillies had tweaked things a little to get even more movement on the pitch. And before you ask, no, the tweaking had nothing to do with the injury that Drabek later suffered. When he returns, it's going to take a while to get his velocity back and they won't even let him throw a curve for some time, so it's going to be a while before we know where he stands with that pitch. Eventually, they'll get back to work on refining his change-up, which is sub-par and an important pitch for Drabek to pick up, since it would make his fastball seem even more devastating.

Pitching Style: You get to see extreme passion when Kyle Drabek is on the mound. He's a fierce competitor and simply doesn't like to lose. The problem has always been that he became his own worst enemy if things didn't go well, but as we said, he had made big progress in that area before the injury shut him down. As he continues to develop and mature, that character flaw should be corrected and a more poised Drabek should emerge. He has a high release point that gives hitters the feeling that he's on a mound that is well oversized and makes it even harder to hit him, especially to take him deep.

Projection: There has always been little doubt that if Drabek's personality didn't get in the way, he could easily emerge to be a top of the rotation starter in the majors. How much will the surgery slow him down or change his projection? Nobody can say for sure, but if he even has just a slight drop off in his pitches, Drabek can still be a very good Major League pitcher. Hopefully, the surgery will be just a slight stumbling block in his progress.

ETA: The injury makes it much tougher to gauge how fast Drabek can get to the majors. Consider the 2008 season to be pretty much of a loss for him and 2009 will be much of a relearning year. In other words, it's going to be some time before he's ready to pitch at the highest level, but he just turned 20 last December, so there's some time to let him get back to where he was and the Phillies won't rush him up the ladder.

Kyle Drabek's career stats

2006 GCL Phillies 1 3 7.71 0 6 6 23.1 33 24 20 2 11 14 1.89 .333
2007 Lakewood 5 1 4.33 0 11 10 54.0 50 29 26 9 23 46 1.35 .239
Minor League Totals 6 4 5.35 0 17 16 77.1 83 53 46 11 34 60 1.51 .269

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