Checking in on Brackman, Cox, Sanchez, Melancon


If you keep up with the Yanks minor league system, you’re probably up to date on the group of pitchers coming off elbow surgery. In case you’re not, Lisa Winston has an update at the official site on Andrew Brackman, Humberto Sanchez, Mark Melancon, and J.B. Cox.

First up, Mark Newman talks up Brackman and Cox.

On Brackman:

“His velocity was between 94-97 [mph], so he had no problems and he’s ready to go for Major League camp,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations. “His stuff is outstanding, and he’s getting a feel for his delivery and throwing strikes. But first and foremost, he was healthy and, at times, dominant.”

“The benefits are the power and deception because the ball is released closer to the plate,” Newman explained. “But the downside is you have long levers to manage, and it takes time. There aren’t many of those guys in the environment to use as test cases, but most people believe that taller guys take a little longer to get their command.”

I’m stoked to watch Brackman work through the season. He hasn’t pitched a season nearly as long as that of High-A Tampa, which is where Mike thinks he’ll start out. I’m guessing he’ll throw something around 100 innings before shutting it down.

Bonus: The Yanks beat some long odds in drafting Brackman.

On Cox:

“He’s fine,” Newman said. “He’s just been out for a year and got to the point in terms of his innings where we didn’t want to overload him. We consider those guys ‘rehabs’ for a full year.”

What I find strangest about Cox is that no team took him in the Rule 5 draft. The Padres took freaking Ian Nova. He’s two years out of elbow surgery, so there aren’t any excuses this year. Here’s to a healthy 2008 for J. Brent.

Humberto Sanchez on himself:

“I feel pretty good, but honestly, I forgot what 100 percent feels like,” he joked from Arizona, where he was enjoying a few hours off watching his beloved New York Giants. “I feel as good as I can going into Spring Training, and being out here has helped a lot. Along with the conditioning and fitness work, we’ve also been doing what we call ‘prehab’ to try to prevent injuries.”

Humberto was pretty damn terrible in the AzFL. He issued 11 walks, gave up 21 hits, and allowed 16 earned runs in just 12 innings. Oh yeah, and just four strikeouts. He has plenty to prove this year. It looks like the Yanks have already moved him to the bullpen, but I think you have to give him this one last chance to head into the season as a starter.

On Melancon:

Winston provided no quotes on Mark Melancon, but she paid him a higher compliment. After rattling off his ridiculously awesome 2008 stats, she says this of the righty reliever:

But whether he starts the spring in New York or in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Melancon is probably the Yankees’ most promising heir to the throne of Mariano Rivera, both thanks to his stuff and his mound makeup.

Damn. Most promising heir to Mo. Talk about setting expectations high. Not that she’s wrong. Of all the relievers on the farm, Melancon is the most poised to make an impact. But the heir to Mo? Damn. Is that even possible to live up to?

Categories : Minors


  1. Ben K. says:

    [Sanchez] was enjoying a few hours off watching his beloved New York Giants.

    There was no enjoying watching that today. I guess Sanchez maybe was watching a game last month or something.

    Anyway, I’m really excited to see Mark Melancon. I hope everyone’s not overhyping him a bit too much. Mariano Rivera’s do not grow on trees.

  2. I’ve been hearing the Mo heir comments about Melancon since late 07, but I’m a little wary of them.

    Let Melancon do as he will in ST and go from there.

    • whozat says:

      I’ve been hearing the Mo heir comments about Melancon since late 07, but I’m a little wary of them.

      Wary in what sense? The only thing you can do is manage your own expectations. The guy’s got it in him to be an excellent reliever, probably a closer. Right now, he’s certainly got the best combination of stuff and closeness-to-the-majors. Why is that a cause for concern?

      • Ben K. says:

        I think Rebecca’s wariness is not quite the same as a cause for concern. She’s wary because baseball history is littered with people who were “the next XX” and never reached that level. People were calling J.D. Drew the next Mickey Mantle. That list is endless. Calling anyone the next Mo is setting them up for lofty expectations that are nearly impossible to meet.

        • huuz says:

          i would go further than “nearly impossible”…

          it will never happen, again. ever.

          Mariano Rivera is the career leader in ERA+…for MLB.

          Let me put it this way, in over 130 years of major league baseball, there has never been a pitcher as good as Mo. Think about that for awhile.

          Hoping that anyone will be “the next Mo” is a hopeless cause.

          Of course, there will be a new Yankee closer at some point in the future, and i’m hopeful that he’ll be really good at it. But we’ve been beyond spoiled with Mo.

          • steve (different one) says:

            Let me put it this way, in over 130 years of major league baseball, there has never been a pitcher as good as Mo. Think about that for awhile.

            i love Mariano, but i don’t think this is an accurate interpretation of being the career leader in ERA+.

            there are other pitchers with lower ERA+ that pitched many, many more innings.

            i am comfortable calling Mo the greatest closer of all time, probably the greatest reliever of all time, but not the greatest pitcher of all time.

      • What’s a concern is that we set ourselves up with these great expectations and then automatically expect him to live up to him…

        Maybe Phil Hughes, Joba and IPK linger too strongly in my mind =P

        (though to be fair, Joba has been great.)

        • dan says:

          I think what you’re trying to say is…


        • whozat says:

          “What’s a concern is that we set ourselves up with these great expectations and then automatically expect him to live up to him…”

          So…just don’t. Ignore any “the next XX” nonsense, pay attention to the scouting reports and stats, and then get excited or don’t based on your own opinion of the guy.

          Also…if you were envisioning Hughes and Kennedy as forces at the front of the 2008 rotation, you have no one to blame but yourself. Did they disappoint? Yep. Are they busts? It’s ridiculous to assert that they are.

          • I didn’t expect them to be great, but I expected them to have more wins than Carl Pavano, for sure.

            And no, I certainly don’t think they are busts-hell, Hughes is younger than I am and the idea of labeling him a bust at this point kind of freaks me out.

            • Mike A. says:

              Brian Bruney is younger than me. When I found that out, I was … humbled.

              • Jay CT says:

                Hughes is still one of the youngest pitchers in baseball. Kennedy pitched well in like 2 starts in September, when call ups happen. He was only projected to be a 3 at best. The expectations are because you built them up inside of you. Kennedy and Hughes both have not thrown enough MLB innings to be considered “disappointments,” it just isn’t fair. I am not calling ANYONE in particular out, I just think people need to remember these things. It is the same thing with Acevas, the kid faced other September call ups- big difference from the top lineups teams run out there in May.

                Everyone needs to give the kids time to breathe. I have been ok with dealing IPK all along, but I remind myself also all the time that it isn’t fair to have unrealistic expectations. Also, no one is saying they are the next XX. They are the next IPK, Hughes and Joba.

          • Ben K. says:

            I’m not necessarily saying that I personally did that, but the royal we of the Yankee fan base tends to collectively do that.

  3. dan says:

    Ah, a reference back to the first post in RAB history. How far we’ve (by “we” I mean you) come.

  4. Old Ranger says:

    I too am very wary of the expectations put on him, even though I watched him a few times last year…this guy is for real folks.
    Mo is a throw back to someone of another time zone, replacing Mo is not a job anyone should be in search of…nobody is going to replace him. If there is anyone out there that should be able to handle the pressure it is Melancon. As a closer, don’t think in the same terms as we have for years with Mo. Melancon gets his outs completely different (in a way), he and Mo pore in strikes but, after the strikes the two differ greatly…Mo has a put-a-way pitch, whereas Mel has a few pitches to get guys out with but he has no special pitch that is great. Most of the time guys strike themselves out or hit into outs, they have trouble centering the ball well.

    • Jay CT says:

      “no special pitch that is great- YET.”

      I usually agree with you Mr. Ranger. However, I do think that because you get to see so many of these prospects, you sometimes develop a bit too much faith in them. Seeing them play against Double A kids is much different then MLB players. I am on the Brett Gardner wagon with you, but I think he has a much better chance to be below average then good. Normally, scouts like Keith Law know what they are talking about, and when they all pretty much say the same thing, they are usually right over the likes of average fans like us (my apologies if you are more then an average fan).

      • Old Ranger says:

        No apologies necessary JayCT, I’ve been told that before…and you could be right.
        I have a tendency of picking a guy I see showing signs/skills I like in a player…then giving him more (maybe) assets/ability then I should.
        For example; Yup, Brett, I mentioned he needed to learn hitting with his lower half…then we hear, Long has been working with him on that problem. 2nd time around he starts hitting the gaps better, etc. He may never be a great player (never said he would be) but, I think he will be a major league player.
        My list of up and coming players is a bit different then some others but, if one of five make it to the majors…that’s not bad.

  5. DreDog says:

    Can’t wait to see Brackman 100% and zoned in. Whenever that is, it will be priceless to flaunt to Yankee haters.

    You draft CJ Henry before Ellsbury and Garza, and Gammons will kill you for the rest of your life.

    • Mike A. says:

      Eh, the Henry pick didn’t work out, it happens. Still hard to fault the logic: high ceiling up-the-middle uberathlete.

      And besides, Henry was still useful.

    • Old Ranger says:

      I hope to get a good look at Brackman this year. I think Joseph mentioned his being at ST, this year. Another one I’m looking forward to seeing is Dellin Betances. Hopefully some of these guys will live up to their potential. We could have a new pitcher coming up every year or so…what do we do with them? We have CC, AJ, CMW, Joba and ???, how do we bring them into the rotation?

      • Mike A. says:

        That would be an excellent problem to have. Every team would be happy with one legit ML pitcher coming up every 2-3 years, nevermind one a year.

        • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

          While most of these guys won’t work out, you can see a scenario where the Yanks let someone like Wang walk (or trade him) in a few years because they have better internal options. Letting a pitcher of his caliber go would be the greatest compliment you could pay to the Yankee farm system.

          It wouldn’t really take much. If Hughes settles into a rotation spot, then you’ll have a rotation of CC, Burnett, Joba, Hughes locked in a few years from now. If Brackman, Betances (or someone else) is ready, you could see letting Wang go.

  6. Ricky says:

    Comparing ANYONE to Mo is setting really high expectations. It’s Mo, then everyone else.

  7. George says:

    Why no mention of Christian Garcia after his TJ?

  8. Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

    “Bonus: The Yanks beat some long odds in drafting Brackman.”

    Does that somehow put him ahead of Melvin Crousset, Son of Mo?

  9. Jay CT says:

    Mike, when I went back to read the long odds on Brackman, you said that “RE: Brackman. I know all about him, but I’m not overly thrilling considering his limited track record (just 70 IP career at NC State). That said, I think there’s a better chance the Yanks will draft Jesus Christ than have Brackman fall all the way to 30. ”

    I am curious what changed your mind on him. Is it just because the more you researched him, the better you liked him? And do you remember where you expected him to go?

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