The 24-year old righty, who landed on the 15-day DL after his June 13 start after suffering a right elbow sprain, will be headed to Dr. James Andrews’ office to undergo the 2nd Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow. Drabek first had the procedure done 4 years ago, and news of his procedure puts his future in something of a grey area. Not that there haven’t been pitchers who have come back from 2 TJ surgeries; in fact, the Blue Jays currently employ one of them – Jason Frasor. Still, for a player who was considered the main piece to the deal that sent Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies, the news is a big hit to the expectations that have been placed on the young starter.
It’s not likely to be until after the All-Star break that Drabek will get back to pitching; but, if/whenever he returns, it will not be so much as a former top prospect, more as a reclamation project. There was talent in that arm when the Blue Jays traded for Drabek, but with the righty having never quite realized those skills on the mound thus far, the 2nd Tommy John surgery puts into question whether/when Drabek will get to being the pitcher the team envisioned that he would be.
What will his velocity be upon recovery? Will he come back as a reliever or starter? Will his mechanics have to be altered? It’s probably far too early to speculate on any of that right now as Drabek is unlikely to even pick up a baseball for the better part of the next year (or longer). When he does, though, I think it’s fair to say expectations of Drabek will be based more from what he does post-2012, as opposed to the track record the pitcher established when he first became a professional.
Here’s hoping Drew Hutchinson, who suffered a similar injury and is awaiting a 2nd opinion on his pitching elbow, will be able to avoid Drabek’s fate.