Phils select righty Drabek at No. 18
Club impressed with son of former Cy Young Award winner
PHILADELPHIA -- Doug Drabek once lost a no-hitter in Philadelphia with one out to go. His youngest son may get the chance to complete that task.The Phillies made 18-year-old Kyle Drabek the 18th overall pick in Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft, putting aside off-the-field questions in favor of a high-ceiling talent ranked by Baseball America as the 12th-best prospect available, and the top high school right-handed pitcher. The son of former Major Leaguer Doug Drabek, Kyle Drabek attended The Woodlands High School in Texas. A gifted shortstop and hitter, Drabek will be developed as a pitcher, and last month, he threw a no-hitter in the state regional semifinal game. In that game, he featured a sizzling, 97 mph fastball and 87 mph slider, and struck out the side in five of the seven innings. He recorded 19 strikeouts, breaking the school's single-game record of 17. "Definitely a pitcher," said Marti Wolever, the Phillies' director of scouting. "He's a great competitor on the mound, with a plus fastball and plus curve." Drabek's physical gifts helped lead The Woodlands to a 36-1 record. The right-hander went 13-0 with a 0.92 ERA. In 84 innings, he has 148 strikeouts for The Woodlands, Baseball America's top-rated high school baseball team. Two weeks ago, he struck out 19 of 21 batters in a no-hitter. As a hitter, Drabek led the team in hits (46), on-base percentage (.576) and batting average (.479), and was second in homers (six) and slugging percentage (.771). Off-the-field questions, specifically a public intoxication charge that was later dismissed and a single-vehicle accident in which he struck a tree, caused him to slip in the draft, as well as whispers of his fiery on-the-mound demeanor. Drabek heard this talk, too, especially during his senior season, but he pitched well. He also didn't wish to discuss it. "When all that talking went on at the games, I drowned it out, because I concentrated on pitching," he said. In a recent article in Baseball America, Drabek said, "There's no problems with me off the field and if anything happened, it happened a long time ago." There's no questioning his on-the-field potential, and the Phillies believe the he is ready to channel this energy. "You can't discount that, or walk away from it," Wolever said. "We've done a substantial amount of homework with Kyle and his family and feel very good about this selection. We think everything is behind him and we're moving on."
Taking a high school pitcher in the first round has been a common theme for the Phillies in recent years, at they've had success with Brett Myers (1999), and also took pitchers Gavin Floyd (2001) and Cole Hamels (2002) in the opeining round.The Phillies are also optimistic of signing Drabek, one of 13 high school players taken in the first round, as opposes to losing him to college. Drabek is represented by the SFX Group. "I think he's a very signable high school player," Wolever said. Wolever also liked the kid's baseball genes. His father won 155 games in a 13-year career, spent mostly with the Pirates. He earned the National League Cy Young Award by going 22-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 1990, the season in which the Phillies' Sil Campusano broke up his no-hit bid on Aug. 3 with a ninth-inning single. "3-2 count, and I lose [the no-hitter]," Doug said. Kyle was 2 when Campusano spoiled his father's memorable day, and grew up around in a Major League clubhouse, like many other sons of Major Leaguers. The second of three children -- older brother Justin may get drafted in the later rounds -- Kyle was raised in an upscale neighborhood near Houston. The elder Drabek said he didn't force his children to play baseball. After retiring in 1998, he coached Kyle's Little League and summer league teams. "He was the person I would go to when I had questions," Kyle said. "If I needed something he was always there. He obviously knows what he's talking about." Kyle said he looks at his father's Cy Young Award occasionally, which is kept in the study. Asked where the younger Drabek will someday keep his, he laughed and said, "I've got to get there first." Comparisons of the Drabeks will be inevitable, with Kyle potentially playing catchup for at least 13 seasons. Doug arrived in the big leagues at 23. Should Kyle arrive quickly, he might play for general manager Pat Gillick, who signed Doug as a free agent in 1997 with the Orioles. Drabek deferred to his son, in terms of talent. "He has a better arm," Doug said. "I didn't throw as hard in high school. Curveball-wise, his is probably harder and tighter than mine was in high school. I probably couldn't spell changeup in high school. He has one. He just didn't get to throw it much during the season. Tool-wise, he's ahead of me." How quickly the younger Drabek advances remains to be seen, though Wolever feels the righty has a bit of a head start. "He's been in a clubhouse a time or two in his life," Wolever said. "He shouldn't be wowed by this situation at all, and he's got as good as instruction as anybody in the country growing up. All those things are going to enhance his progress and put him ahead of a lot of kids."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.