Kyle Drabek, the former 1st round pick (18th overall) in the 2006 draft, has signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent Atlantic League.
The son of former National League Cy Young winner and current pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A team, has bounced around for the past six years never living up to the lofty expectations a first-rounder encounters.
For all you Toronto Blue Jays fans, Drabek was the centerpiece in the Roy Halladay trade that brought along Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor. He was always that guy who had all the tools, but for whatever reason it never generated into wins or a sustained amount of time at MLB level.
With a cannon for an arm, 93 plus on the radar gun was a common sight at the Rogers Centre. Unfortunately, so were walks. His 5.8 walks per nine innings nearly matched his 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Drabek’s most extensive body of work came with the Jays. Over five seasons he appeared in 39 games starting 30. In 2011 he went 4-5 with a 6.06 ERA and struck out 51 in 78 innings. The following year, he put together a 4-7 record and compiled a 4.67 ERA in 71 innings.
Without a doubt the Skeeters are thrilled that another MLB calibre player will be joining the team. Even more fascinating is that Drabek may not spend all his time on the mound. After being released by the Chicago White Sox in July of 2016, the San Francisco Giants signed him to a minor league deal with the intention of using him at shortstop.
Grabbing a bat and taking the field is not foreign territory for him. In his senior year in high school Drabek hit .479 with six home runs. Over the course of his high school career, he belted 27 home runs and won USA Today and Louisville Slugger High School All-American honors.
On the surface it appears the experiment wasn’t successful; .167 with 4 RBI in 25 games, however, that doesn’t mean he’ll never step in the batter’s box again. The independent leagues are a great way for players to resurrect their careers and this is no different. Essentially Drabek has been written off like many before him, but as we’ve seen multiple times over, that’s not always how things end up.