When the Toronto Blue Jays first acquired Kyle Drabek in 2009 as part of a package of prospects from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for ace Roy Halladay, the team’s hope was that Drabek would eventually develop into a frontline starter in the major leagues.

Since then, the now-27-year-old Drabek’s career hasn’t exactly panned out as planned. After making his debut with the Blue Jays in 2010, the right-hander posted an ugly 6.06 ERA in 18 games (14 starts) during the 2011 season and was optioned to the minor leagues.

The 2012 season wasn’t much kinder to Drabek, as he made Toronto’s Opening Day roster and went on to post a 4.67 ERA in 13 starts before going down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. This was the second Tommy John surgery of Drabek‘s career.

The injury aside, Drabek’s biggest issue on the mound has always been his erratic control. In 172.1 career innings pitched in the major leagues, Drabek has issued a whopping 111 base on balls.

After he spent most of the 2014 season in Triple-A Buffalo working as both a starter and reliever, the Blue Jays called up Drabek late in the campaign and used him out of the bullpen. Drabek pitched just three innings for Toronto before the season ended, striking out five and not giving up a run.

While that small sample size looks promising, it’s worth noting Drabek’s 2014 numbers in Buffalo were rather pedestrian. He posted a 4.18 ERA in 99 innings pitched, giving up 116 hits and 30 walks during that span.

Drabek’s latest Tommy John surgery has also taken its toll and his stuff is not as sharp as it once was. According to Fangraphs.com, the average velocity of Drabek’s fastball went from 93.6 mph in 2010 to just 91.3 mph last season.

With other young starting pitchers such as Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris passing him on the depth chart, it seems unlikely Drabek will ever be a part of Toronto’s starting rotation again.

Considering he is out of options and can be claimed by another team if he doesn’t make Toronto’s Opening Day roster in 2015, the Blue Jays should give Drabek a long look during spring training and give him every chance to make the team.

While his days as a starter are likely behind him, Drabek might still have a future with the Blue Jays in the bullpen next season if he can show he can be an effective relief pitcher. But, the former top prospect is quickly running out of time and chances.


*All stats are from Fangraphs.com and MiLB.com.

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