CLEARWATER, Fla.â€”The Philliesâ€™ brass traveled across town to Dunedin on Saturday to see 2006 first-round pick Kyle Drabek pitch in the low Class A game.
Assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle and farm director Steve Noworyta, as well as several Phillies scoutsâ€”including assistant scouting director Rob Holidayâ€”made the short trip to see their enigmatic righthander.
And although it was just 3 1/3 innings, Drabek delivered. His fastball velocity was up to 94 mph, and he was locating it to both sides of the plate. His trademark hammer curve also was nasty, and he showed better feel for a changeup than originally advertised.
â€œWe quieted down his delivery somewhat,â€ Arbuckle said. â€œMainly to limit stress on the arm, but in doing that I think he now has a different kind of deception. He had deception before, but now itâ€™s a little tougher to pick the ball up coming out of his hand.â€
Drabek, who was known as much for his temper as his quality arm in high school, says it was a compromise solution after he put up uninspiring 1-3, 7.71 numbers in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
â€œIn high school Iâ€™d always lift my leg a lot higher, and Iâ€™d turn my back in my delivery,â€ Drabek said. â€œWhen I got here, they had me going with my leg at a 90-degree angle and not turning at all. It kind of bothered me and I wasnâ€™t throwing as hard.
â€œThey let me go back to my old ways a little bitâ€”we reached a compromise with a slight turn and a lower kick.â€
Drabekâ€™s father Doug was also present in the stands, and pulled his 19-year-old son aside after his outing was over.
â€œIt used to be tough on me having him around and I think there was a lot of pressure for me to live up to some kind of unrealistic expectation,â€ Drabek said.
â€œNow Iâ€™m just trying to go out and do my own thing, make my own way. Itâ€™s great having him because I can talk to our pitching coaches and also talk to him. Itâ€™s like an extra pitching coach at home.â€
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