When Andrew Brackman was drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, the Yankees were well aware of the risks associated with Brackman. Just nine days after the draft, the 6’10 right-hander underwent reconstructive surgery on his elbow.
“We weren’t surprised that he had these growing pains,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president for baseball operations. “We knew that going in. Where we draft, we don’t get opportunities for guys like Andrew, who’s a heck of an athlete and has an incredible arm. That’s what’s so attractive about him.”
Source: NY Times
At 24 years old, the North Carolina State alum is looking forward to the 2010 season, following a season in which he struggled with control, leading the South Atlantic League with 76 walks and throwing 26 wild pitches. To add to his troubles, his velocity suffered and it was clear that Brackman hadn’t completely recovered from his surgery. All in all, he ended last season in Charleston with a 2-12 record and a 5.91 earned run average.
“When you’re not being successful, you take a step back and look at things and wonder why,” Brackman said. “Sometimes you panic and things start moving faster and faster, and I think that’s what happened to me. Everything just rolled into a big ball.”
Despite his struggles, there’s some positives to speak to when looking at his 2009 season. After struggling as a starter, Brackman found himself in the bullpen before season’s end. Though the sample size of only 10 relief appearances was small, Brackman delivered and ended the season on the high note. Don’t expect him to return to the bullpen in 2010, however, as he is likely to begin the year in Class A Tampa in a starting role.
Recently, Brackman expressed confidence that those early season struggles are, hopefully, in the past.
“I feel normal again,” Brackman said. “The mound doesn’t feel like I’m in outer space anymore. It feels like I can stay there and be comfortable, and it’s been a while since I could say that.”
Brackman remains an interesting prospect. He’s certainly a high risk, high reward player who’s ceiling projects well for the Yankees. With a fastball in the mid 90’s and a curveball described as “an absolute hammer”, it’s easy to see why he’s viewed as an exciting player. I’d expect an increase in his velocity as while as his control this season as he should display more of what we saw from his bullpen performances his last season.
He won’t be taking a role in the Yankees starting rotation this season, but the potential remains. In the few opportunities I’ve had to speak with the Yankees pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, he’s always spoken honestly about the players of which he raves about. Brackman is one of those players.
It’s important not to make too much out of his time in the bullpen, where he held hitters to a .218 average, but you can’t ignore it either. Before moving to the bullpen, Contreras and the Yankees also made some “tweaks” to his mechanics. Between those tweaks and an increase in confidence, there’s no reason to believe Brackman will not improve.
That being said, I’m not expecting record breaking numbers from Brackman, but he should begin to show if he’s indeed the player the Yankees believed they were drafting in 2007. If he does indeed pan out to be the successful player they imagine, the Yankees could be sporting a 6’10 giant on the mound in New York.