Over the past two or three weeks, we have all been bombarded with news on a prospect named Kyle Drabek. He has been called a future Phillies' ace by scouts around the league, an untouchable prospect by Phillies' management, and a trade target of both the Blue Jays and Indians. Before throwing a pitch above AA and only a few years removed from high school and Tommy John surgery, Drabek appears to be on the fasttrack to superstardom. Today, Drabek was even given the honor of being placed on the hompage at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/. The questions remain, however, what do the Phillies currently own in Kyle Drabek and how can they most accurately evaluate his worth to the future of the franchise?
Although no one can be sure of Drabek's future, there are comparisons that can be made that will help us to see his potential. The two most relevant comparisons that can be made are with the Phillies' current homegrown ace, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Drabek's father, Doug Drabek.
First, lets take a look at Kyle Drabek's minor league statistics:
2006 Rookie 1-3, 7.72 ERA, 23.1 IP, 14 K, 11 BB, 1.89 WHIP
2007 A 5-1, 4.33 ERA, 54 IP, 46 K, 23 BB, 1.35 WHIP
2008 Rookie/A 1-3, 2.23 ERA, 32.1 IP, 16 K, 12 BB, 0.897 WHIP
2009 A / AA 11-2, 2.78 ERA, 129.1 IP, 123 K, 38 BB, 1.152 WHIP
Total 18-9, 3.54 ERA, 239 IP, 199 K, 84 BB, 1.234 WHIP
Next, we will look at Cole Hamels' minor league statistics:
2003 A 6-3, 1.34 ERA, 101 IP, 147 K, 39 BB, 0.990 WHIP
2004 A 1-0, 1.12 ERA, 16 IP, 24 K, 4 BB, 0.875 WHIP
2005 A / AA 4-0, 2.31 ERA, 35 IP, 37 K, 19 BB, 1.029 WHIP
2006 A / AAA 3-1, 1.10 ERA, 49 IP, 68 K, 12 BB, 0.837 WHIP
Total 14-4, 1.43 ERA, 201 IP, 276 K, 74 BB, 0.950 WHIP
Lastly, we will look at Doug Drabek's minor league statistics:
1983 A 6-7, 3.65 ERA, 103.2 IP, 103 K, 48 BB, 1.418 WHIP
1984 A / AA 14-7, 2.24 ERA, 160.2 IP, 103 K, 57 BB, 1.120 WHIP
1985 AA 13-7, 2.99 ERA, 192.2 IP, 153 K, 55 BB, 1.080 WHIP
1986 AAA 1-4, 7.29 ERA, 42 IP, 23 K, 25 BB, 1.786 WHIP
Total 34-25, 3.21 ERA, 499 IP, 382 K, 185 BB, 1.210 WHIP
So, what can we gather from this data? At first glance, the difference between Hamels' gaudy stats and those of the two Drabeks is somewhat surprising. Although Hamels had several injury plagued seasons in the minors, he was able to put up an amazing stat line every time he stepped on the mound. His stats are far and away better than either of the Drabeks and seem to validate his "sure-thing" future ace status coming into the big leagues.
All is not lost, however, in terms of the younger Drabek. After comparing his stats to those of his father's, one can see that the similarities are enormous. While Kyle has a slightly better winning percentage than his father, Doug makes up for this with a slightly lower ERA. Kyle does hold the advantage in the strikeouts per nine innings (0.83 to 0.77) and in strikeout to walk ratio (2.36 to 2.06) categories. The Drabek's also share almost identical WHIPs.
Solely based on the stat comparisons above, it appears that Kyle Drabek is following the career path of his father very closely. Compared to Cole Hamels, Kyle may be considered more of a late bloomer, but is still considered to be a future ace for some major league team.
If the Phillies trade Kyle Drabek for Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, they will receive an ace for the next two years. If the Phillies decide to hold on to this "untouchable" prospect, they MAY have an ace for many years to come. It all comes down to philosophy; do we try to win now , or try to win for the next decade or more?