Toronto Blue Jays: Is Kyle Drabek the Future Face of the Franchise?

Alec SnyderContributor IIIApril 3, 2011

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kyle Drabek #4 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the first inning of play against the Seattle Mariners on September 22, 2010 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Matthew Manor/Getty Images)
Matthew Manor/Getty Images

On December 16, 2009, the Toronto Blue Jays traded away their ace, Roy Halladay, to the Philadelphia Phillies for $6 million and three prospects: pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, catching prospect Travis D'Arnaud and outfield prospect Michael Taylor, who was immediately traded to the Oakland Athletics for Brett Wallace, now the starting first baseman for the Houston Astros.

Drabek, around whom the deal revolved, was the Phillies' top prospect at the time and was also ranked the 25th-best prospect of all minor league players by Baseball America prior to the deal. He is the son of former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 1990.

This past offseason Drabek's rank moved down only four spots to No. 29, and in this past season he struggled dealing with his emotions on the mound. Nonetheless, he made an impression on the Blue Jays this past spring training, and due to the injury of starting pitcher Brandon Morrow (forearm), the No. 2 spot in the Blue Jays rotation was open, and Drabek was given said spot.

On April 2, 2011, Drabek made his first start of the season, and boy did he dazzle. Against Minnesota Twins starter Francisco Liriano, Drabek pitched for seven innings, in which he surrendered only one hit (to Denard Span). What's more amazing is that he was pitching a no-hitter through 6.1 innings until Span hit his single.

In addition, Drabek struck out seven, and though he walked three batters, he only gave up one run and only two of his 21 outs were flyouts in the Blue Jays' 11-1 rout over the Twins.

Drabek picked up the first win of his career as a result of his incredible pitching. Although he made his major league debut last September, this game is definitely one to remember for both Drabek and the rest of his team.

This dominating performance begs a question, though: Is Kyle Drabek the future face of the Toronto Blue Jays?

The answer to this question could easily be "yes."

If Drabek continues pitching with such skill and elegance, could he make a name for himself or even ascend to become one of the game's elite pitchers?

The answer to this question could easily be "yes."

Before Roy Halladay was dealt to Philadelphia, he was considered a face of the franchise, along with Vernon Wells. Now that both have been dealt (Wells was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the offseason), is Drabek next?

Even though he's only made one start this season, Kyle Drabek could be on the path to greatness. It all depends on how he can control his pitching in the future.

And while the Phillies obviously do not regret their trading Drabek for Halladay, currently one of the game's most dominant pitchers, winner of the NL Cy Young Award last season, and the leader of their fearsome pitching rotation, could Drabek contend to win the Rookie of the Year Award this year or even a Cy Young Award in the future?

The answer to this question could easily be "yes."

Do you agree/disagree? Please post your comments below.

Fun Fact: Brandon Morrow, whose spot Drabek is currently filling, came within one out of pitching a no-hitter for the Blue Jays on August 8 of last season. In that game, he pitched 17 strikeouts until the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria broke it up in the top of the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Morrow pitched a complete game one-hit shutout and picked up the win in the Blue Jays' 1-0 victory.