Tag:Kyle Drabek
Posted on: June 17, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Arencibia keeping Jays steady behind plate

Though the Blue Jays' youth movement hit a bump when Kyle Drabek pitched himself back to the minor leagues this week, it's not all bus rides and Motel 6's for the kids. Blue Jays' rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia continues building the foundation for a promising major-league career.

Arencibia's 34 RBI and .464 slugging percentage led all American League rookies, and his 10 home runs were second to the Angels' Mark Trumbo, as the Jays open a weekend series in Cincinnati.

But it's not just his offensive production that has impressed the Jays.

"From spring training to now, he's advanced by large steps," Toronto manager John Farrell says. "He's handling the pitching staff, his game-calling, his blocking balls in the dirt."

At 25, Arencibia, Toronto's first-round pick in the 2007 draft, has advanced to the point where he's caught more innings than expected. With veteran Jose Molina behind him, the Jays figured to break in Arencibia a little more slowly. But he's played in 52 of the Jays' 69 games, a workload that's been the combination of acumen and want-to.

"He loves to play," Farrell says. "I had to fight him early in spring training to come out of the lineup on certain days with the plan we had. He knew about the [schedule], but he wanted to play."

Not all has been smooth. Arencibia recently has been playing with a sore thumb, and that, too, will be a learning process. Professionally, he's never played in more than 116 games (2009, at Triple-A Las Vegas) in a season. The aches and pains and grind of a big-league schedule can take its toll, and the Jays may need to get Arencibia more days off later this summer.

But overall, the kid has looked like a keeper since he said hello last Aug. 7 by becoming the first player in the modern era to knock out four hits, including two homers, in his major-league debut.

"He's maturing as a player," Farrell says. "His conversations between innings with pitchers are right on the mark. They really are.

"He's handling both sides of it."

Posted on: April 12, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Kyle Drabek isn't cooking yet, but he's close

First road trip of what should be his first full big-league season started pretty darned good for Kyle Drabek, Toronto's rookie right-hander.

Teammate and Los Angeles native Ricky Romero's father picked up a group of seven or eight Blue Jays upon their arrival in Southern California on Thursday night, drove them to his house and fed them home-cooked carne asada and shrimp ceviche for dinner.

A day later, Drabek held the Angels to one earned run over six innings in a 3-2 Toronto win.

"It's been great so far," Drabek says. "It's like a family here. It's a great atmosphere. It's a great team to be on. Everyone's together, it's a bunch of young guys ... this team can be really, really good."

Especially if Drabek, 23, soars to the heights many expect. The must-have player in the package Toronto received from Philadelphia in the 2009 Roy Halladay trade, Drabek will take the ball for a second time on Toronto's current trip Wednesday afternoon in Seattle.

So far, so good for the son of Doug Drabek, winner of the 1990 NL Cy Young award while pitching for Pittsburgh.

In two starts in 2011, Kyle is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA.

Over 13 innings pitched, he's allowed just two earned runs and seven hits. He's fanned 12 and walked seven.

"Obviously, we'd love to have Doc [Halladay], and we miss him and follow his continued success," Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill says. "But at the same time, we get a guy like Kyle, who knows? He may be a Doc one day.

"He's got unbelievable stuff."

The Twins saw it on April 2, when Drabek rang up his first victory of the season in a 6-1 decision in which he whiffed seven and surrendered just one earned run in seven innings. Then the Angels got a taste of it on Friday.

"He's got all the attributes you look for," first-year Toronto manager and former pitcher John Farrell says. "He's a very talented, bright young pitcher. He's getting established at the major-league level, and in addition to his physical abilities, whether it's power to his fastball or the ability to manipulate his secondary stuff, his competitive spirit is very strong.

"I think the one thing that's really emerging is controlling that competitiveness, and using it in the right way."

The Jays have seen his intense competitiveness, and part of catcher Jose Molina's charge is to help keep things under control during games.

Drabek says command of all of his pitches in general "is not where I want it to be, but it's a lot better than it was last year."

Specifically, his change-up, which he worked hard on all spring, is coming along nicely. He's already used it in a few 2-and-0 counts and found it can be a weapon amid his hard stuff.

"It's a good pitch," he says. "If I learn how to control it perfectly, it can get me back in the count. It's a pitch that will get me a nice ground ball on."

Between that and smoothing out other rough edges, Drabek and his father have been eyeing the schedule and looking for a chance to meet. Doug is a pitching coach in Arizona's system and this summer has been promoted to Class A Visalia in the California league.

"We get to Oakland once this year [Aug. 18-21] and it's only a few hours away," Kyle says.

By then, who knows where 2011 will have taken him? It's early yet, but Drabek already has advanced from his cup-of-coffee tenure last September, when he went 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA in three late-season starts. Another reason for the improvement: His coming-of-age two-seam fastball.

"You can list probably four above-average, major-league weapons for him," Farrell says. "It gives him so many ways to attack both left-handed and right-handed hitters."

On the mound, for now -- physically, at least -- Drabek looks nothing like his father. The mind's eye recalls grainy footage of Doug, unshaven and squirting tobacco juice, looking fierce as midnight. While Kyle is intense as well, he's still baby-faced.

"I can get pretty scruffy," he says, chuckling. "But I prefer not to right now.

"Maybe if I win a Cy Young award, I can get as scruffy as him."

For now, hey, he's just finding his way. At 23, he's still young enough to love a between-starts, home-cooked meal like the Romeros provided.

"It was a lot of fun. I wish we were going to Houston," Drabek says of his hometown, thinking of maybe returning the favor one day.

Pause.

"I'd have my mom cook. Or someone."

 

 

Posted on: October 25, 2010 6:11 pm
 

Farrell has what Jays need: Pitching knowledge

The Toronto Blue Jays interviewed something like six dozen candidates to replace Cito Gaston as manager ... and they wind up hiring a man who has managed nothing other than pitching staffs during his coaching career?

Moving to hire John Farrell as skipper is either going to be young general manager Alex Anthopoulos' most brilliant move yet ... or a crashing disaster.

In the AL East, with a Blue Jays team that fared better than expected post-Roy Halladay in 2010, there will not be any in-betweens.

As Boston's pitching coach the past four seasons, Farrell was the typical genius when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and, well, not-so-genius in 2010, when most every pitcher other than Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz under-performed.

Still, he's got a strong background in player development in Cleveland, he helped develop young arms like Lester and Buchholz in Boston and that's exactly what the Blue Jays want. Even in the post-Halladay days, they've got a strong nucleus of young pitchers, guys like Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek.

Anthopoulos is overseeing Toronto's latest rebuilding project, and based on the Blue Jays' 85-77 finish in 2010, fourth in the AL East, it's moving along more quickly than anticipated.

But here's the key: Toronto, over the next two or three seasons, will move as far as those aforementioned pitchers will take it.

If they stay healthy and continue to progress, the Blue Jays may finally get over the hump and climb back into the upper reaches of the AL East.

If too many of those pitchers flat-line, then all 2010 was for Toronto was one more mirage.

I like that Anthopoulos is thinking outside the box, so to speak. No, Farrell does not have any managerial experience. Yes, he knows pitching. And given where the Jays are, and that the game is returning to an emphasis on pitching, this has a chance to be one of Toronto's wisest moves yet.

Time was, former big league pitchers were looked upon skeptically as future managers. But look at what Bud Black is doing in San Diego. That perception is beginning to change.

Obviously, it is imperative that Toronto hires a bench coach who has been a manager, a wise old coot who knows strategy and rules. That's the type of guy who can help Farrell, with his knowledge of pitching, make a major difference as the Blue Jays look to soar.

 
 
 
 
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