Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances stand at 6’10″ and 6’8″ respectively and it is their size and their high ceilings that have earned them the nickname the “Twin Towers.”
Entering the 2009 season they were among the elite starting pitching prospects in the Yankees system, but by the end of that season Brackman had been demoted to the bullpen and Betances was on ice after undergoing season ending surgery. Coming into this season things were not looking good for either one of the duo. However here in the middle of June things seem to have taken a turn for the better for the pair.
In 2009 Brackman, now 24, started his season in the Low-A Charleston rotation, but wildness took over and he was eventually demoted to the bullpen. He got his rotation spot back entering this year, but when he returned he didn’t have his normal high-90′s fastball that the Yankees drafted him for and instead was throwing in the 89-92 mph range.
There seems to have been a plan behind that though. Force him to work a little slower while focusing on his mechanics and location. If that was the plan, it seems to be working perfectly. Brackman hasn’t walked more than two batters in any start this season and his velocity has slowly been creeping up while his performances just get better and better.
In his last five starts Brackman has been said to be throwing 93-96 mph to go along with a 4-0 record, a 1.55 ERA, 34 strikeouts and 4 walks over 29 innings. It’s a small sample size to be sure, but it looks like Brackman is finally starting to fulfill his untapped potential. If he can keep this up, he’ll shoot up to the top of the Yankees prospect lists again in no time.
Betances, 22, is another story. He’s also had great stuff ever since the Yankees drafted him, but it feels like he’s always dealt with elbow issues. His best season was 2008, but last year he just looked lost. Finally he went down with an elbow injury that caused him to need a ligament reinforcement procedure to fix. Between that and his mixed results throughout his minor league career it was really hard to count on him as a prospect entering this season.
Well if his first two starts back from surgery are any indication Betances is back and he’s a prospect again. The sample size is small, but Betances has been throwing 95 mph and touching 98 in those starts. He went six innings in each, he allowed just one run (in his first start) and has 13 strikeouts to go with just one walk. His ERA is currently 0.75.
It’s too early to tell for sure if these guys have really turned their careers around, but they certainly seem to be on the right path. Both are pitching for the High-A Tampa Yankees and are realistically at least two years away from the majors, but if they continue on this trend the Yankees have regained two high ceiling pitching prospects once thought lost.
What’s important now is that they both stay healthy and pitching every fifth day. If they can do that and keep demonstrating the control they’ve displayed lately the Yankees have two pitchers with bright futures.