Like Father Like Son

Pittsburgh Pirates’ and Houston Astros’ right-hander Doug Drabek was one of the better National League pitchers in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In total, he won 155 games over the span of 13 seasons, which also included two seasons in the American League with Chicago and Baltimore. He won the 1990 National League Cy Young award after going 22-6.

Doug and his wife celebrated the beginning of his second season in the Majors by conceiving son Kyle Drabek in the spring of 1987. He was born on Dec. 8 of that year. Eighteen years later, he was selected 18th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2006 amateur draft out of a Texas high school (Father Doug was selected by the New York Yankees in the 11th round of the 1983 draft out of the University of Houston, after turning Cleveland down in the fourth round out of high school).

Doug spent just over three seasons in the minors before making his pro debut. Kyle, three years younger when he made his pro debut, has already spent three seasons in the minors but he missed part of 2007 and most of 2008 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He has looked impressive upon his return.

Kyle allowed just 17 hits in 32.1 innings of work and posted rates of 2.66 BB/9 and 4.43 K/9 in four starts in Short Season ball (He also made four starts in Rookie Ball) this past season. The strikeouts are down, but he allowed just one home run in the 32.1 innings. Needing more work, the Phillies organization sent Kyle to the Hawaii Winter Baseball league after the World Series concluded. There, facing many players older and more advanced than him, Kyle allowed just eight hits in 20.2 innings. He walked four and struck out 19 batters. The right-hander also followed his season trend of inducing almost two ground ball outs for every fly ball out.

Kyle certainly has the stuff to succeed. Prior to the surgery, he was touching 97 mph with his fastball and his out-pitch was a wicked curveball. He is also working to develop a reliable change-up as his third pitch. With his combination of an electric repertoire, a heavy ball and a lifetime around the game, Kyle is well on his way to making his own name in Major League Baseball – perhaps as soon as 2010.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Actually, given his December 8 birth date, Kyle was more likely conceived in late winter. An average human gestation period of 266 days places his conception on March 17, three days prior to the vernal equinox. It’s probably best not to assume on close calls like these—all we know for sure is that baseball fever was heating up and so were Doug’s loins.