Friday, August 21, 2009

Drabek Stymies Sea Dogs

Better than Halladay?

Kyle Drabek made a name for himself this summer as being a pitcher that the Philadelphia Phillies were unwilling to trade to the Toronto Blue Jays for ace Roy Halladay. Thursday night at Hadlock Field he demonstrated why that might be, throwing seven shutout innings in Reading's 6-0 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs.

Drabek is still just 21 years old, but pitching well in his first taste of AA. He mixes hard off-speed stuff with a tantalizing, mid-90's fastball (topping out at 96 mph on Thursday). By "tantalizing," I mean that he got several Sea Dogs batters to chase his four-seamer, resulting in several popups, if not outright swings and misses. His offspeed stuff was effective, if less impressive. He's got a curveball (I think) that he throws in the low-mid 80's, which he spotted well. With his stuff, I would expect more Ks than he's featured. He's averaged about 7 per 9 innings pitched since his promotion to AA, but only had four last night. Regardless, for a guy who returned from Tommy John surgery about a year ago, he looks pretty good.

The Sea Dogs didn't look quite as good, committing four errors on the night that led to five unearned runs. Worse, two of the errors were the result of throws that should not have been attempted in the first place. Pitcher Felix Doubront was strong early, facing the minimum of 9 batters on 37 pitches through three innings. After that he struggled with his command, throwing 62 more pitches and failing to get out of the fifth. His defense could have gotten him out of the fifth unscored-upon, but he wasn't without fault. It wasn't hard to notice that what had been 3-4 pitch at bats were becoming 5-6 pitch at bats.

Feel-good story Daniel Nava impressed with his bat (2-4 with a double) and his hustle in beating out a double-play ball. He looks like a guy who could have a future in the game. The other bright spot was Lars Anderson. An uber-prospect who has struggled for most of the year, Anderson hit the ball with authority on Thursday, with a line-shot wall ball double accompanied by a warning track fly out to right field. It doesn't sound like much, but I've seen too many nights this year in which he gathered a walk, a K and a couple of tappers, to not be somewhat encouraged by a couple of hard-hit balls.

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