Drabek began the year in Toronto, but he struggled with his control and composure on the mound. He went just 5-4 with a 5.70 ERA in 14 starts before being demoted to Triple-A in the middle of June.
The 23-year-old finished the Triple-A season with the Las Vegas 51s on Monday night and will now join the Blue Jays' bullpen as an option to pitch in long relief.
"There's work that continues to be done, particularly with refining his delivery, controlling his adrenaline while on the mound, commanding his fastball a little more consistently," manager John Farrell said.
"All of those things are still a work in progress but [we] feel like in shorter stints, rather than thinking about getting through a lineup three different times, and getting further Major League experience going into the offseason, there are a lot of positives that can come out of this."
Drabek struggled to find success in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in Triple-A. Toronto wanted its top pitching prospect to stop relying too much on a cut fastball, and that pitch was temporarily removed from his repertoire.
The Texas native didn't respond to the change and the new environment very well. He managed to go just 5-4 with a 7.44 ERA in 15 starts while walking 41 batters over 75 innings.
But Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos believes those numbers are deceiving. Anthopoulos traveled to Las Vegas on Saturday and watched Drabek's final start. The stats from the game didn't look impressive, but Drabek's performance on the mound caught the GM's attention.
"I was really encouraged by what I saw," Anthopoulos said of Drabek, who allowed five runs over six innings. "I sent John Farrell an e-mail during the game. That's how excited I was. If I was sitting in the office and looking at the line, I'd say, 'Oh he's getting hit again.'
"The fastball was up to 96, he averaged 94-95, the curveball, he's now throwing for a strike, which he never had the ability to do here."
Anthopoulos said most of the damage occurred during one inning. It also provided another test for the former first-round pick because Toronto had previously been concerned about a lack of composure when things started to unravel on the mound.
Drabek handled the situation well, which is another step in the right direction for his overall development.
"There was one inning where he gave up the four to five runs, bloopers, bleeders, we kicked the ball behind him, there was a lot of weak hit balls, broken bats," Anthopoulos said. "The inning kind of snowballed on him, and I was really watching to see how he was going to react.
"He was composed, calm. It's going to come for him. I don't know if it's now, I don't know if it's going to be next year, but I think one way or the other, Kyle Drabek is going to be very, very good."