Kyle Drabek is one of three (Travis d’Arnaud, Randy Ruiz) former BlueClaws in Blue Jays camp this spring, as the 2007 BlueClaw was sent to the Jays as part of the Roy Halladay trade in December. The right-hander, considered the top pitching prospect in the organization and one of the top arms in the minor leagues, found out about the trade while watching ESPN at home in Texas.
“It was a total shock,” he told Andy Martino in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “That was the first things that I saw of it.”
2007 saw Drabek pitch well for two months with the BlueClaws, including a 7.2 inning, two hit, one run outing in the second game of a split-double header that year. But he got hurt in June, had Tommy John surgery that basically cost him 2008.
2009, however, was a great year for 21-year old (he turned 22 in December). From Clearwater, where he had 10.8 Ks/9 and earned a spot in the Futures Game, he went to Reading, where he went 8-2, 3.64, though his Ks dropped to 7.2 per 9.
He shot back up the prospect rankings and was in high demand. While the Phillies held onto him at the trade deadline, they sent him to Toronto two months ago.
Tommy John surgery is not considered to be career-threatening anymore, but it’s still surgery. Drabek told us last year, however, the improvements in medicine, and specifically those coming back from this surgery, calmed him down a little bit.
In talking to the doctor he told me that about 90% of the people come back stronger and that was a huge confidence booster because I knew that I could come back nice and strong. When I began to throw it felt great and that also helped my confidence a lot.
He reflected on his time with the BlueClaws this way:
I had a blast in Lakewood. The field was amazing, the atmosphere was awesome and the fans were amazing. I had never played in front of that many fans before and I played with a lot of great guys. I had a lot of fun there.
Now it’s off to Toronto, and adjusting to a new team, new teammates, new uniforms, and a new situation. That’s where it helps to have a father who played for a long time in the big leagues, and Doug was there to help.
“He said, ‘You know what? It’s baseball,’ ” the younger Drabek said. ‘ “This stuff happens, and you just deal with it and try to do your job.’ ”