Royals RHP prospect Dillon Drabble went to the University of Central Arkansas out of HS, transferred to Seminole State after one year, and signed to play at Texas A&M. The Royals drafted Drabble in the 17th round of the 2016 draft and give him a $100,000 bonus before he could get on the Aggies campus. Drabble only threw 6.1 innings in 4 games at UCA before his transfer but threw a full season at Seminole State.
Coming out of high school, Drabble was the number two high school RHP from Arkansas in his 2014 draft class according to Perfect Game. Drabble went to Genoa Central HS in Texarkana, Arkansas. On a side note, the Dragons are the 2017 3A Boys and Girls Cross Country Arkansas state champions! Congratulations to all those coaches, athletes, and parents!
Drabble is best when he works in the low 90s but can touch 95. Drabble also throws a cutter, hard breaking ball that is more of a slider, and a change. Dillon is a ground ball guy. He played for AZ Royals and Idaho Falls Chukars in 2017. Drabble struggled with command in 2017 walking right around 4.0 per 9 after commanding it well and only walking 1.34 per 9 in 2016. His K rate increased to 8.25 per 9 in 2017 after moving to Idaho Falls. The K to BB ratio was 5:1 in 2016 and a little less than 2:1 in 2017.
Drabble has struggled last year with allowing base runners. Hitters have been getting more hits than innings pitched but he has pitched in hitter friendly environments. Drabble only threw 7 games at short season IDF after moving up and had two bad starts and two really good starts. He probably was not as bad as the numbers suggest if you just glance at his stats. His numbers from Seminole State and the 2016 Arizona Royals suggest that the WHIP will come back down to a more acceptable level.
Drabble did have an issue with LHHs though and that probably is because his change is behind his other pitches. Lefties slashed .385/.468/.538 which is much worse than the righties who are at .292/.350/.368. Lefties had a batting average on balls in play at a whopping .479 and an OPS of 1.006 in 2017. Those are astronomical numbers and there is no way lefties can keep that up. By regressing toward the mean Drabble’s numbers v. LHHs will improve. This also correlates to the higher number of hits Drabble allowed in 2017. This can also tie back to command. RHHs hit .342 on balls in play which is still a little high but typical in a hitters environment. At Idaho Falls it isn’t unusual to see the wind blowing straight out to left center.
Surprisingly, Drabble pitched really well against teams top 20 prospect lists. Drabble allowed a .293 average in 82 ABs with a 17:3 K:BB ratio allowing only 4 extra base hits. This suggests that perhaps he concentrated more against the perceived better players. Drabble was also better with runners on base rather than bases empty.
One thing that really surprised me is that of the 26 balls hit in the air into the OF by LHHs against him, only 4 turned into outs. That is a really low percentage of outs.
Drabble is described as a competitor who works really hard. This suggests that he will not be happy about a disappointing 2017 season. Drabble looked good in the fall work the Royals had him go through. Drabble must control the BBs and own the K:BB ratio better in 2018. The Royals have high hopes for him and he projects to start the season in the rotation in Lexington.
Images from Seminole State and UCA.