Tag: Kyle Drabek

Kyle Drabek: Toronto Blue Jays Righty Lighting Up the Mound in 2012

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek has turned things around and is having a great 2012 season on the mound.

After struggling through 2011 for Toronto and then being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after going 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 14 starts, Drabek is a new pitcher with superior control.

Last season, Drabek’s official rookie season, he appeared to become easily frustrated and rattled on the mound when faced with difficult game situations. As a result, he spent a great deal of time working on his pitching mechanics and his patience during the offseason and into spring training.

All of that appears to be far behind him, as he earned his spot on the starting rotation this season after an impressive showing in spring training. Dustin McGowan’s placement on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation created an opportunity for Drabek to once again prove himself as a viable starter for John Farrell.

He acknowledged that he has learned a great deal, saying, “I learned a lot from last year and it helps me out this year, especially with guys on base and things not going my way. Last year I tended to overthrow and this year I’ve been able to slow myself down and make the pitch that I need to.”

Drabek has a successful start to the 2012 season with a 2-2 start, 26 strikeouts, a 2.40 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.267 in 30.0 innings pitched.

His command and composure on the mound has significantly improved this season, and we should expect his progress to continue.

With some time to further develop and refine his pitching mechanics, Drabek may very well turn into one of the major stars for the Toronto Blue Jays and in MLB.

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MLB Spring Training: Toronto Blue Jays Kyle Drabek Will Have Bounce-Back Season

Toronto Blue Jays right-handed pitcher Kyle Drabek may have had a difficult and trying 2011 season, but he has arrived at this year’s spring training with a new and fresh perspective that will enable him to adapt and overcome last year’s issues.

Getting called up to the Blue Jays from Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Drabek made his MLB debut on Sept. 15, 2010, against the Orioles and pitched seven innings, threw 101 pitches with seven strikeouts and gave up one hit and one earned run.

After three successful starts in 2011, he began to decline and was optioned down to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he continued to struggle.

In Drabek’s MLB overall experience, he has a win-loss record of 4-8, an ERA of 5.83, 63 strikeouts and a 1.72 WHIP in a total of 21 games since his call-up to Toronto.

Putting the struggles of the 2011 season behind him, he has learned from those experiences, both positive and negative, and will use what he has learned to grow in a positive direction.

He has changed some of his pitching mechanics, and he continues to work on them in spring training. He is learning how to adapt to certain situations and understands how to take something negative, learn from it and turn it into something positive.

In the past, Drabek would tend to overthrow pitches trying to work himself out of a jam. His pitching mechanics last season led him to tail off to the first-base side at the end of his delivery.

Pitching coaches have set up yellow lines on the mound in the bullpen for him to pitch from in an attempt to keep him on-line and not tail off. The changes appear to be working well for him, and he will continue to practice and develop new pitching mechanics.

Drabek pitched three innings on Thursday against the Houston Astros in the Grapefruit League, allowing one earned run and one hit.

Drabek’s father, former MLB pitcher Doug Drabek, gave him some advice explaining how important it is to not only learn from your mistakes, but also to learn from your achievements.

He is in the hunt for a spot on the rotation, and manager John Farrell seems to be impressed with what he has seen in Drabek so far this spring training.

Farrell has seen the positive changes in Drabek this year. He still has work to do, but Drabek has demonstrated signs that he is headed for a bounce-back 2012 season.

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Joey Votto: Toronto Blue Jays Potential Trade Target

The Blue Jays will be aggressive this offseason; with two huge first basemen hitting free agency there is no question GM Alex Anthopoulos will be inquiring on both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.  Both men will get big money, but it won’t be from the Jays.  I feel the price tag will be too large and the length of the contract beyond the Jays comfort zone to lock up either free agent.  The Blue Jays biggest target this offseason (assuming that Felix Hernandez will be kept off the trading block) will be Joey Votto

Adam Lind, first baseman of the Jays in 2011, put up decent offensive statistics throughout the year, but a lowly OPS number of .295 is well below where it should be.  That would be a nice starting point for his batting average, let alone his OPS.  Granted he did slug 26 home runs and drove in 87, these numbers should be higher hitting behind Jose Bautista. Compare that to Votto who hit .309/.416/.581 (BA/OPS/SLG). I believe the Jays will inquire on the Reds first baseman.


The Reds are in the an envious position of having two power hitting left-handed first basemen, the difference is one is young, cheap and controllable…the other is expensive and possibly leaving the team in a couple years via free agency.  The Reds organization is coming to a tipping point financially, to either hold onto Votto for the remainder of his contract or to move Votto and replace him at first with a talented young first baseman, Yonder Alonso. 

It breaks down like this: Votto will be paid in 2012-13 $9.5 million and $17 million respectively, whereas Alonso is under contract for 2012 for just $1 million and presumably re-signed for the 2013 for $1.8 million (or re-signed for a longer term contract that is good for both sides, but in the very least he is controllable).  The difference of $23.7 million over those two seasons could be saved and spent elsewhere to help the Reds organization. The Reds understand that trading away Votto, rather than Alonso, is the better move for the franchise because Votto would be eating up a large chunk of their payroll. (Not including signing bonus cash to be paid out)

They could trade Votto to the Jays in a deal that could be set up like this:

To the Jays:

  • 1B Joey Votto


To the Reds:

  • SS Yunel Escobar
  • P Kyle Drabek
  • P Deck McGuire


Who the Reds Get:

The Reds need help at shortstop and trading for Yunel Escobar would be great for the franchise. Zack Cozart played well in his short stint with the big league club, but with such a small sample size the chance to attain Escobar would be a hard one to pass up; Escobar is more talented and well-rounded at the position.   He ranked No. 3 among shortstops in OPS last season and had a WAR rating of 4.4. Escobar hit in the leadoff spot in the lineup and was one of the Jays top hitters, setting the table for Jose Bautista. 

 Escobar’s contract is set up very team friendly and will make the Reds strongly consider this move; he is signed up for 2012-13 for $10 million total, and has team options for 2014-15, each for $5 million a season. This move alleviates many fiscal restraints on the Reds front office (especially considering Votto’s 2013 salary) and moves in a very talented SS that is controllable for four more seasons.

Kyle Drabek was the center piece to the Roy Halladay trade.  In fact, it was the Phillies who were not willing to involve the prospect in the Halladay deal that was creating a road block for both parties.  Drabek struggled with control in 2011, but putting too much pressure on himself accounted for some of the wildness.  He has the stuff to become a front end of the rotation pitcher, with a hard fastball that touches 95mph and a curveball that falls off the table; his repertoire is nasty.  The numbers don’t lie that Drabek struggled this past season, but it has not influenced opinions on how good Kyle will become.  The Reds would be attaining a very high ceiling pitcher who, potentially, could find himself pitching right behind Cueto in the rotation.

The Reds would also be acquiring Deck McGuire, who was the first round (11th overall) draft pick of the Jays in 2010.  McGuire pitched three seasons at Georgia Tech before beginning his pro career, which gave him a solid foundation.  He is a horse on the mound and will be a very effective starter in the future, eating up major innings.  Deck plowed through 125 innings and collected a 9-5 record with a 3.02 ERA combined in his first professional season which saw him promoted from Dunedin (A) to New Hampshire (AA).  The Jays would lose a fantastic pitching prospect, and the Reds will gain a young hurler that will be major league ready very soon, possibly a 2012 call up. 

This package brings in a top tier talent at shortstop, pitching depth and a great pitching prospect to Cincinnati, as well as addresses the issue of clearing up payroll and finding a permanent position for Alonso (it would be a mistake to keep him in LF).


What the Jays will do:

The Jays would be bringing in their third left-handed hitting first baseman to the club and they will not be carrying all three on the 25 man roster come April.  Adam Lind would presumably be shopped around to a club who is looking for first base help and heavy on bullpen pitching (Lind to Oakland for Andrew Bailey?). The Jays are looking to improve their bullpen and making a move to trade Lind would give them the best return on investment.   They would keep young David Cooper (who hit .356 in Las Vegas (AAA) last season, with on OPS of .439) as a backup for Votto and to platoon the DH role with right handed hitting Edwin Encarnacion.  This would clear Lind’s salary off the books and bring in some pitching help to shore up the Jays bullpen. 

Losing Escobar would force GM Alex Anthopoulos to bring up young SS Adeiny Hechavarria, who was slated to play all season in Las Vegas (AAA).  He is a potential gold glove prospect who the Jays are very keen on; from day one he would be able to showcase his defensive ability.  Hechavarria would step up and hit in the nine hole for the Jays and potentially develop his hitting prowess into a productive offensive threat with some speed.   In the final 25 games of the 2010 season in Las Vegas (AAA), Hechavarria tore up the league with a .389 batting average, so there is potential at the dish.   The thought of also bringing back beloved former Blue Jay, John McDonald, would make it an easier transition for Hechavarria to learn the big league ropes from.


After the Deal:

This deal works for both teams: The Jays receive former MVP and Toronto born player Joey Votto, while the Reds receive a top-tier talent at shortstop (one of the hardest positions to fill) and a couple of strong young arms.  There will have to be a consensus from the Reds organization that this move will inevitably help the franchise in the years to come, even though it will sting to trade away their franchise player.  They must realize they cannot afford to keep Votto in the long term and he will most likely be gone in two short seasons.

The Jays will be adding another huge bat to their already powerful lineup, anchored by Jose Bautista.  It is scary to think of just how good Votto and Bautista’s numbers will be when they are side by side in the lineup.  I still see Bautista hitting in the three hole with Votto taking over the cleanup duties.  It would make for an exciting year for all Jays fans.

If Cincinnati balks at the thought of trading Votto, the Jays will walk away and happily go into next season with the players they offered in the trade.  They have zero sense of panic and will not overpay for Votto.

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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Waiver Wire Wonders

Chipper Jones, 3B Atlanta Braves—Here’s a salty veteran for you. Chipper has come flying out of the gates hitting .353 with two RBI and one run. I know it doesn’t look great, but if he can continue to open hot like he has in the past, the RBI and HR numbers will come. Jones is the type of player you ride a hot start with, then dump him as the season goes on and he starts battling injuries. Pick him up and ride out the production.

Brandon Belt, 1B San Francisco Giants—He has not been hitting the ball especially well so far as he’s only going .154 with a homer and four RBI. Yet, it is mainly the fact that he made the team and is getting playing time that should be noticed. Belt is a top prospect with the ability to come in and make an impact as evidenced by his three-run jack on the second game of the season.

Kyle Drabek, SP Toronto Blue Jays—I wrote about him earlier this week, but I’ll say it again. Kyle Drabek is fantasy worthy. The kid’s got a ton of promise that he showed us in his first start by going seven innings giving up one run on one hit with seven strikeouts. Drabek should be a solid play down the stretch this year. Last season, he struggled when he came up, but has had a great spring and another great first start and looks to be an asset for fantasy teams everywhere.

JP Arencibia, C Toronto Blue Jays—Oh look, another rookie and another Blue Jay. Arencibia is another guy I have been hyping for quite some time now. I was happy to see him go 3-for-4 with a couple dingers, five RBI and two runs. Obviously the talent is there, but the question is whether he will get enough playing time to justify picking him up and maybe even starting him. If he can continue to come out of the gate hot, playing time should not be an issue down the road.

Brenan Boesch, OF Detroit Tigers—Boesch struggled last season down the stretch, hitting .163 in his final 68 games. He does not look to be struggling to open this season. He is hitting .500 with a HR, four RBI and five runs. Boesch is not going to blow you away with numbers, but he is young and has the potential to contribute and also has the potential to receive the majority of the at-bats over Ryan Raburn.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball True Sleepers: An Undrafted Lineup

The term “fantasy sleeper” is rather stupid at this point. 

There is so much written, so many forums and so much media, no one is a sleeper. 

You think Gio Gonzalez is a sleeper this season? He’s not. Everyone knows who he is. They might not like him as much as you do, meaning you will be able to draft him late, but he is not being slept on.

The new term should be “fantasy value” as in: so-and-so has great fantasy value because of how late he is being drafted. So, hypothetically, what’s the best lineup that can be put together of players who no one wants, all undrafted players? This would show us ultimate value, adding a player off waivers who can produce all year.

Here is 2011’s Best Fantasy Baseball Team No Money Can Buy.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Jeremy Hellickson & the Prospect Pitching Preview

When projecting the 2011 fantasy value of prospects with little or no major league service time, their value is tied as much to opportunity as it is to ability. For example, prospects like Mike Trout and Shelby Miller have as much ability as anyone in the minors but will not see the big leagues until at least 2012. 

The following list of pitching prospects (max 16 MLB starts) contains the guys with the best current combination of opportunity and ability.

The cream of the crop is Jeremy Hellickson. Not that I am breaking any news with that statement, but I would be remiss in assuming every reader knows that Hellickson is at the top of this list is a given. 

The Tampa Bay prospect has produced at every level of the minor leagues posting fantastic strikeout numbers and displaying excellent control. One thing I particularly like about Hellickson is that he has logged more than 550 innings over five years in the minors. He has gone through the development process and is not simply being thrown to the fire. Plus, Hellickson will not just be the best of the prospects—he has the ability to jump right into the SP top-40.

After Hellickson, the fantasy value drops off somewhat. However, the opportunity is still there for the next four prospects that play on lesser teams with shallow rotations.  Michael Pineda, Kyle Drabek, James McDonald and Carlos Carrasco are all likely to be in big league rotations out of Spring Training in large part due to a lack of competition for those rotation spots. 

Kyle Drabek gets a ton of prospect attention because he is the son of a former major league pitcher, he was a first round pick in 2006, and because he was one of the prospects involved in the Roy Halladay trade.  But all that attention has probably made Drabek overrated.  

First of all, Drabek may not be able to provide the strikeouts that usually come with highly touted pitching prospects. In over 250 innings at AA, Drabek has posted a K/9 around 7.25. Not an awful number by any means, but it is likely to dip below 7.00 at the major league level. Drabek has also struggled with control at times. Last year he walked close to four batters per nine in 162 innings.  

The other thing that concerns me is that all these numbers I am quoting to you come from AA.  Unlike Hellickson, Drabek has not made stops at every level of the minors. He has never seen AAA and is now skipping the level and going straight to a big league rotation. A year at AAA would probably serve Drabek well, but after Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, and Marc Rzepczynski the Blue Jays have only Drabek and Jesse Litsch (career 4.54 K/9) to choose from in order to fill out their rotation.  You can certainly understand why the Jays would want to see if Drabek is ready to produce at the major league level rather than rolling with Litsch.

According to Jim Bowden, Michael Pineda is the favorite to win the fifth spot in the Mariners rotation.  Like Hellickson, Pineda has produced big strikeout numbers in the minors while displaying excellent control. However, like Drabek, Pineda could probably use more seasoning in the minors as he has pitched less than 150 innings combined between AA and AAA. 

If Pineda does in fact end up with a spot in the big league rotation out of spring training, do not fall into the trap of assuming big name prospects are major league ready. Take a wait-and-see approach with Pineda in mixed leagues, but feel free to hope his upside is realized sooner rather than later in AL-only leagues.

James McDonald seems to be a popular prospect here at The Fix as he showed up in Adam Ganeles’ sleeper list in our Draft Kit (BUY IT HERE!) and Jesse Mendelson mentioned him as a potential sleeper in recent article previewing the Pittsburgh pitching staff. And I’m with Adam and Jesse on McDonald.  

The former Dodger prospect produced well above average strikeout numbers at every level of the minor leagues (again, I like the fact that McDonald spent time at A, AA, and AAA), and his ability to miss bats so frequently may be why Bill James, tangotiger, and the Fangraphs fan projections all have McDonald projected to post a sub-4.00 ERA in 2011. 

Wins may be hard to come by playing for the Pirates and a high walk total may result in a 1.35ish WHIP, but if McDonald is able to strikeout close to a batter per inning with a sub-4.00 ERA, he will be a solid NL-only option and a nice spot starter in mixed leagues.

Carlos Carrasco is sure to have a spot in what may be baseball’s worst rotation in Cleveland.  He has certainly put in his time in the minors (over 300 innings at AAA), but he has not had quite the same level of production as some of the other prospects discussed above.

On the plus side, Carrasco has been good in the strikeout department and has induced a lot of ground balls in his short stints in the majors. On the flip side, control may be a problem. Walks have been an issue at times for Carrasco, and he may be a WHIP liability. He is not even flier-worthy in mixed leagues, but could be a useful back-of-the-rotation guy in AL-only leagues.

Finally, Julio Teheran (Braves), Manny Banuelos (Yankees) and Jordan Lyles (Astros) are three young prospects who have tons of ability and would have made this list if they had a little more opportunity. Each guy could receive a call-up at some point later in the season, so those of you in deeper leagues should place them on your watch list and keep an eye on their progress.

Written by Brett Talley exclusively for thefantasyfix.com. 


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MLB Prospect Power Rankings: Mark Trumbo Bursts onto the Scene

The Grapefruit and Cactus circuits are both well underway and prospects all over the league are starting to establish themselves while others have watched their stock slip.

With the spring training schedule at its halfway point, the time to impress coaches and management is now for many of these youngsters. With roughly three weeks to go until teams head north for the summer months, many of the prospects listed below have very limited time to unseat the seasoned veterans ahead of them on the depth chart and onto your fantasy baseball team.

Lets take a look at who made big moves this week and others that fell off.

1) Jeremy Hellickson – TB  (LW:1)

The young Rays flamethrower maintains his firm grasp on the top spot this week. Hellickson finally made his first appearance of the spring on Friday, tossing a perfect inning against the Pirates. With a nagging hamstring injury seemingly behind him, the young lefty can really start to lay a nice foundation for himself over the next few weeks and instill some trust from the coaching staff. The plan is to stretch him out over the next couple starts with the ultimate goal of having him ready to take a spot in the rotation once the season begins. Whether that be as the 5th starter or something higher in the rotation remains to be seen.

2)   Kyle Drabek – Tor  (LW:2)

Drabek is really coming into his own early on in the spring and has many in the organization incredibly excited about this youngster’s future. Over his first six innings of the grapefruit league campaign, Drabek has retired seven batters via punch-out and only allowed two earned runs. He has also yet to walk a batter in those first six innings, which lends credence to early scouting reports that claimed he would have excellent control of his arsenal.

3)   Freddie Freeman – Atl  (LW:3)

The young man expected to hold down first base for the Braves and possibly your fantasy baseball team this coming season also maintains his spot from last week. With a .364 average in his first five games this spring, Freeman looks more than capable of handling everything that might come his way in his rookie season. The 21 year old Freeman has also compiled three doubles and four RBI already this spring and has dispelled any doubts he wont be ready to assume his role on a team with championship aspirations.

4)   Mark Trumbo – LAA  (LW:NR)

Bursting onto the scene this spring with numbers that just cant be ignored is this young slugger who is tearing up the cactus league. Trumbo has already mashed four homeruns in his first 36 at-bats with 11 RBI to boot. He does have the propensity to strike out with alarming regularity and still needs to establish his defense, but he could still force his way into the lineup with his hot start. With Kendrys Morales uncertain to return to the Angels lineup for opening day, Trumbo may make it very difficult for manager Mike Sciosca to leave him behind in Arizona.

5)   Jake McGee – TB  (LW:4)

A slight drop for McGee this week, but make no mistake about the fact that he still looks poised to steal the closers gig away from a group of established veterans this spring. He has yet to allow a run over his first four innings this spring and his ratios have some people in the organization ready to anoint him the go-to guy in the 9th. McGee has yet to issue a walk this spring which is a good sign for a guy trying to lock down one of the most vital spots on any major league roster.

6)   Zach Britton – Bal  (LW:9)

Another young gun who has made great strides this spring is Zach Britton. Britton has yet to allow a run his first five spring innings and has looked incredibly sharp in doing so. The impressive young lefty hasn’t been blowing people away with fastballs this spring and instead has taken this time to learn how to effective locate all his other plus pitches. He was originally slated to begin the season down in AAA, but if he continues to show out like this he may very well be a part of this young and talented Orioles squad after all.

7)   Danny Espinosa – Was  (LW:6)

Espinosa is still in a heated battle to make the Nationals opening day roster, but at this point it may be a foregone conclusion. His .407 average in 27 at-bats this spring has been unexpected and he is unlikely to continue that pace. On the other hand, his 2 homeruns and 11 RBI are very real and exactly what Washington figured they were going to get when they gave him the chance to win the second base gig. Expect this prospect to break camp with the big boys and hold down his spot for the foreseeable future.

8)   Lonnie Chisenhall – Cle  (LW:NR)

Here is a name to file away and keep tabs on. Lonnie Chisenhall faces an uphill battle to wrestle away the third base job from one of the mediocre holdovers presently found there, but hes making a strong case. His defense still needs to show improvement, but his bat has been rather impressive already. With 11 hits in his first 23 at-bats and a couple long balls his bat has proven to be quite potent. Like any young prospect he will need to show a bit more plate discipline going forward, but there is no doubt the talent is there.

9)   Madison Bumgarner – SF  (LW:NR)

I was hesitant to include Bumgarner in this discussion since he is no longer eligible for the rookie of the year award after hurling 100+ innings last season, but facts are facts and this kid is legit. Many in the Giants organization are hoping he takes his new appointment as a full time member of the rotation and runs with it. Expecting him to slot right into the third spot in the rotation behind Lincecum and Cain is not far fetched by any means. Bumgarner has the arsenal and the makeup to bulldog his way through an entire MLB season with ease. This young power pitcher is ready to shine and he plans to do just that beginning this season.

10)   Michael Pineda – Sea  (LW:7)

I left Pineda just inside the top 10 this week despite a shaky outing last week against the Indians. He still has some fairly inspiring numbers early in the spring with some real nice peripherals, but will need to show more consistency quickly in order to break camp with the parent club. Pineda will be given a few more starts to show he belongs and the Mariners are hoping he flashes the dominance many in the organization knew he possessed when they drafted him out of the Dominican back in 2006.

Dropped Out:  Chris Sale (CHW), Domonic Brown (Phi), Desmond Jennings (TB)

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