Assessing Brackman’s Season, Part II


Two years ago, the Yankees selected righthander Andrew Brackman with their first round pick, knowing full well that he might need elbow surgery at some point, perhaps as soon as that summer. Brackman showed tremendous raw stuff and considerable potential as an amateur, the reasons why he was ranked so high in pre-draft rankings (Keith Law had him as the third best prospect in the draft class). The Yankees were willing to gamble and wait on his talent, especially with a pick so late in first round.

As expected, Brackman underwent Tommy John surgery soon after signing a Major League deal worth $3.35 million guaranteed with incentives that could push the total value of the contract to $13 million. At the time, it was potentially the richest contract in draft history. Brackman spent all of 2008 rehabbing but returned to action in the now defunct Hawaii Winter Baseball League last fall where he was ranked the number two prospect by Baseball America (subs. req’d).

Brackman’s long awaited full season debut didn’t go as smoothly as planned this year. It featured a few ups but considerably more downs. His overall season line — 106.2 IP, 106 H, 79 R, 76 BB, 103 K — isn’t pretty, and his 26 wild pitches were second most in all of minor league baseball. The way I see it Brackman’s season can be broken down into three distinct periods, which I’ll arbitrarily call Good Brackman, Bad Brackman, and Reliever Brackman.

We already took a look at Good Brackman yesterday, and now we’re going to examine Bad Brackman.

* * *

After nine good starts with the River Dogs, Brackman’s season started the unravel at the end of May with the infamous ten walk game. The next nine starts following that one were better, relatively speaking, but still atrocious by any measure. Even though his strikeout rate remained strong at 8.49 K/9, the rest of his peripherals were downright ugly:

11.83 BB/9
0.72 K/BB
10.80 H/9
1.29 HR/9
.343 BABIP
7.11 FIP

He managed to throw just 35 innings in those ten starts, and as ugly as the numbers are, Brackman’s stuff may have been worse. Dave Cameron of USS Mariner and FanGraphs fame took in the big guy’s July 23rd start at Greensboro, and let’s just say he came away less than impressed:

In the first inning, he sat 90-92 with the fastball, going to the outside corner against RHBs. The pitch had some decent movement down and away, and profiled as the kind of pitch that could get groundballs. His command was poor, as expected, walking the leadoff batter, but even once he got ahead in the count, it became obvious he didn’t have anything else besides the fastball. On an 0-2 count, he threw a 73 MPH curve with no tilt that bounced about a foot in front of the plate. He came back with another weak 72 MPH curve that just hung in the strike zone begging to be hit. He went back to the fastball and got through the first inning, but wasn’t impressive.

Then came the second inning. The fastball dipped down to 88, but he still popped 92 occasionally, but the breaking ball was just awful, and the Greensboro hitters were sitting on his fastball. His command went in the toilet, and the movement on his fastball ran right into LHBs wheelhouse, giving them a chance to take batting practice. Kyle Skipworth, who isn’t exactly a good hitting prospect, launched one of Brackman’s fastballs deep into the night sky. Every left-hander just pounded the fastball, and the curve simply wasn’t good enough to keep hitters off balance.

I respect Cameron’s opinion, but he’s also the same guy that said he wouldn’t trade Jeremy Reed for Jonathan Papelbon or Jon Lester, so maybe we should take his report with a grain of salt. Regardless, the key point is that not only had Brackman shown no improvement with his stuff, but his command and control had completely deteriorated.

He walked four or more batters in a game seven times in that stretch, but amazingly went walk-free in one game. It was just a tease though, because Brackman issued eight free passes in his next 7.1 IP. As if the walks weren’t troubling enough, he also uncorked 16 (!) wild pitches and plunked five batters in those 35 innings. Control always takes some time to come back after Tommy John surgery, but that’s completely unacceptable at any level.

Developing comfortable and repeatable mechanics are always an issue with tall pitchers (Randy Johnson walked 222 batters in 259.2 IP between Single- and Double-A), but such extreme control problems indicate there was more than just inconsistent mechanics at work here. I have no idea what’s behind all this, but I imagine it’s a combination of things rather than just one big core problem. I’m sure his confidence is suffering a bit, which can’t be helping things.

If there’s one positive thing we can take from this horrible stretch of “pitching,” it’s that Brackman made every start. It’s not much, but it’s important because you can’t work on anything if you aren’t healthy enough to take the mound. Brackman had one start skipped by design during this stretch, but otherwise he took the ball every five days without incident. However, with little to no progress being made, the organization couldn’t just keep letting Brackman embarrass himself by running him out there every five days.

Tomorrow, in the final installment of this mini-series, we’ll take a look at Reliever Brackman.

Categories : Analysis, Minors


  1. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Don’t worry Mike. Brackman will be in Tampa at some point, then you will get an awesome report from me. As always? I just have to stay away from the beer, the delicious, delicious beer.

  2. Mattingly's Love Child says:

    At the beginning of the year I looked forward to seeing how Brackman did. At this point, I didn’t want to know. It’s tough seeing a potential prospect’s career going down the shitter. Those here yesterday know my concerns about the ability of his stuff to bounceback, but I don’t think there has ever been an incredibly tall pitcher that just got it from an early age (it being mechanics, velocity, command, etc). It would be insane to give up at this point, but it was masochistic to look forward to his starts during this run.

    • It’s tough seeing a potential prospect’s career going down the shitter.

      Step back from the ledge, MLC.

      • You’re calling his career over after one season? That’s a little premature, no?

      • Mattingly's Love Child says:

        Oh, I wasn’t saying that I was giving up. But it was a huge slide from his earlier production. When you have a 24yr old, former 1st round pick struggling to do anything right in Low-A, I’d call that sending his career down a tough road.

        I definitely think he can still do it. The fact that he got through the year without injury is a victory. But he now has to get over the mental part of getting his ass whooped, as well as find his mechanics and stuff.

  3. 11.83 BB/9
    0.72 K/BB
    10.80 H/9

    That’s just mind-bottling. You look at those numbers, and you’re almost like, “Wait, he must be doing that on purpose. That’s gotta be a typo.”

    But it wasn’t. Ugh.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      I’m trying to figure out what those guys striking out were thinking? Were they just standing there, got to a full count and their manager told them to take it?

      • Accent Shallow says:

        This is why it’s instructive to look at strikeouts as a percentage of PAs, rather than on a per-inning basis. An 8.5 K/9 from a guy with a WHIP of 2.51 (no, not a typo) is actually worse than a K/9 of 7.5 from a guy with a WHIP of 1.00.

        Just for the record: that’s a K/PA% of 17.1%, whereas the second pitcher (who doesn’t exist), would have a K% of 20.8%.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      I think the same thing when alex gonzalez posts something irrational (like below this comment). I think he’s just joking and is messing with us. But he’s not.

  4. alex gonzalez says:

    at what point can we say this kid won’t turn into anything. he is the new eric duncan. he signed with the yankees as there top draft pick. he is looking right now like he will never pitch a day in the major leagues.

    • I’m totally unsurprised by this response. Saw this coming a mile away.

    • Eric Duncan just completed his sixth full season in the minor leagues.

      Andrew Brackman just completed his first full season in the minor leagues.

      Apples and oranges.

      • alex gonzalez says:

        fine they are completely different cases. this kid was drafted two years ago and he has done worse than people selected in th 50th round. he is an example of the yankee hype machine.

        • Rick in Boston says:

          Keith Law had him the #3 draft prospect prior to his draft year. Baseball America had him the #2 prospect in the Hawaiian league. Neither of those are part of the ‘Yankee hype machine’. He also missed one year with Tommy John – the Yankees are happy he made it through a year healthy with no injury issues.

          • alex gonzalez says:

            oh well if keith law said it must be true. no one has ever been wrong about hyping a prospect who turns out to be a nobody. lets look at the numbers since you are all using only emotion and always criticize me for doing that 11.83 BB/9 0.72 K/BB 10.80 H/9. looks like he will be a real control pitcher in the major leagues. i can’t wait for a team to bat around without even having to swing.

            • JobaWockeeZ says:


              If you are already calling someone a bust after their first year in the minors then you need patience. There’s this dude, his name is Derek and he sucked in his first year in the minors.

              And no they did not release him and say this guy is teh sux0r.

              • alex gonzalez says:

                this is a pitcher. apples to oranges. that guy named Derek wasn’t coming back from surgery. also he didn’t put up ungodly horrible numbers. if this kid wasn’t such a highly drafted prospect he would have already been released.

                • JGS says:

                  I would think the coming back from surgery would be a mitigating factor

                • keithr says:

                  Ban please

                • JobaWockeeZ says:

                  A OPS of .611 is horrible. And you completely missed the point. You don’t give up a prospect based on their first year.

                • alex gonzalez says:

                  why do i deserve a ban. i completely follow the commenting guidelines.

                • JGS says:

                  and 56 errors in 126 games (.889 fielding %) is pretty ungodly terrible

                • alex gonzalez says:

                  no you missed the point. you compared a pitcher and a position player apple to oranges. i compare eric duncan and brackman and get criticized. jeter and brackman are completely different cases. i see what you are trying to argue but you used the wrong player to do it.

                • Tom Zig says:

                  Doesn’t coming back from surgery mean we should be MORE patient and not less?

                  Pitchers coming back from Tommy John Surgery can take up to 18 months to recover. Couple that with the fact that Brackman hadn’t pitched since 2007. How many times do we have to say that he is completely relearning his craft. We are the Yankees, we take financial risks because we can, why complain?. If he doesn’t succeed by the time he is 30, then you can call him a bust.

                • alex gonzalez says:

                  well i just don’t want people calling him a top prospect. how about he could turn into a very good player, but someone “relearning their craft” shouldn’t be considered a top prospect. i still think he wont become anything. but to still call him a top prospect is a stretch.

                • Salty Buggah says:

                  Who ever called him a top prospect? He’s a really good PROSPECT though because of his potential.

                • alex gonzalez says:

                  mike axisa on many occasions over the last couple of years.

                • JobaWockeeZ says:

                  Did anyone here think so now? We’re saying don’t give up on him because he still can turn things around. We’re not saying he’s super special awesome and he’ll be the new number one guy when he comes up.

                  Randy wasn’t really special in the minors as well. Granted not as bad as Brackman but he also had control problems. He walked quite a lot of batters. Young starters will do that.

                  And somehow I’m going to turn this into an unrelated Joba thing but Randy had control problems in the minors and just a bit older than Joba pitching in the majors in the AL East right now. We gotta be patient with these young pitchers.

                • Tom Zig says:

                  He was/is considered a top prospect because he prospectively (UCWIDT?) could become a front line starter.

                • JobaWockeeZ says:

                  mike axisa on many occasions over the last couple of years.

                  …Because he was a couple years ago

                • Rick in Boston says:

                  Mike said he was a top prospect in February. That was before this happened. Would you have rather he got hurt instead of posting the statistical line he did?

                • Salty Buggah says:

                  Hold on a second. You’re a former regular (one of the irrational ones) here arent you?

                  I remember from one of your first days, you said you just saw this website on TV and came here to talk with Yanks fans. Then once I called you a troll, you said something like you came here a like just a while back in one of the nesting comments.

                • And, you know what:

                  HE’S STILL A TOP PROSPECT NOW.

                  At this level of the minors, and given his TJS history, it’s still too early to dock him all the way down to non-top prospect status. It’s more about potential than results for now.

                  If he has another clunker season, THEN he’ll cease being a top prospect.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  Hold on a second. You’re a former regular (one of the irrational ones) here arent you?

                  heh. he’s gotta be joba and hughes to the pen.

                  he makes me miss 65hughes and his endless peavy pining

                • Tom Zig says:

                  65hughes is still around, he just has a different name. He has since stopped the peavy pining and occasionally makes good comments when he comes by. And no he isn’t mryankee.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  is he tom zig?

                • Salty Buggah says:

                  I guess he could be JOHTTP. I mean AG knows what Mike said 2 years ago but when he came here, he said he just saw this site on TV. It’s gotta be someone like him.

                • Tom Zig says:

                  very funny.

                • Joba and Hughes to the Pen is touchtoneterriost and Adrian-Retire-21.

                  mryankee and alex gonzalez and 65hughes are three different posters, at least until there’s evidence to the contrary.

                • Tom Zig says:

                  No, i think 65hughes is 13arod-fan (or something like that)

                • jsbrendog says:

                  Is he Brendo/jsbrendog?

                  hey now. most definitely not. the only alter ego jsbrendog has ever had on RAB is jsbrendog (rocks). jsbrendog aproves this announcement

                  although i did fall prey to the (insert athlete or movie star here) name and saying hello.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  Joba and Hughes to the Pen is touchtoneterriost and Adrian-Retire-21.

                  mryankee and alex gonzalez and 65hughes are three different posters, at least until there’s evidence to the contrary.

                  hmm interesting how did you figure this out?

                  No, i think 65hughes is 13arod-fan (or something like that)

                  i know who you mean yeah he does have good stuff to say sometimes, and did bakc then too haha but he sure did love him some peavy

                • hmm interesting how did you figure this out?

                  I know things. Let’s leave it at that.

                  Sal/Grant/Lanny/Bo: confirmed
                  Joba and Hughes to the Pen/touchtoneterriost/Adrian-Retire-21: confirmed

                  All others (more or less), unconfirmed.

                • Tom Zig says:

                  He gave favors to the webmaster!

              • Lanny says:

                Please dont try to make this point by comparing Jeter at 18 to Brackman at 24.

                I beg u

            • Rick in Boston says:

              That’s not what I said, nor what you said. You said “he is an example of the yankee hype machine.”

              I explained that it’s impossible for him to be an example of the Yankee hype machine as other, more objective sources considered him an excellent prospect.

              • This is a great example of the “moving argument”.

                Keep changing the topic of what you’re discussing, so as to seem to evade any actual retorts and rebuttals that you can’t answer.

                AG: Brackman sucks, he’s the new Eric Duncan. So he’s a bust.
                Reply: Duncan didn’t become a full-fledged bust worthy of giving up on until multiple years in the minors. Bad comp, and poor reasoning.
                AG: Yeah, but Brackman was just hyped by the Yankees, he wasn’t really that good. So he’s a bust.
                Reply: No, he’s not just a Yankee Hype Machine product, numerous people not in the org had high praise for him and with good reason.
                AG: Oh, well sometimes people make mistakes in evaluating a prospect, but his numbers suck right now, so he’s a bust.

                See how he’s not actually answering anyone?

                • Salty Buggah says:

                  Heh, this is the similar to the argument I had with him about Joba’s pitching limits. He’d keep switching back and forth (even agreeing with my original point several times) on the arguments.

                • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops says:

                  See how he’s not actually answering anyone?

                  alex gonzalez = Joe Morgan?

                • Hmmm…

                  I’ve never seen the two of them in the same place at the same time. And Joe Morgan likes wins…

                  I’m convinced.

                • I didn’t see this comment when I was writing my comment, below. So, yeah, what he said.

                  What say we just stop engaging alex gonzalez in conversation? He takes over threads because everyone responds to him and keeps the conversations going, even though he doesn’t actually have conversations, he just talks over people and doesn’t listen to anything anyone else says.

                • alex gonzalez says:

                  “salty buggah” i never kept flip flopping, you kept misunderstanding what i was saying and put words in my mouth. my opinion was the same throughout while i tried to find common ground with you.

                • Salty Buggah says:

                  Ummm, no. I quoted everything you said. I never made up anything. IN fact, you didnt understand what I and several others tried to say. Also, some of arguments that you couldn’t really find something against, you didnt reply to.

                • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops says:

                  And AG likes to say “comparing apples to oranges” while JM refuses to answer questions by saying something like “It’s difficult to compare different eras…”

            • I know you have a point you want to make in your mind when you start typing, but man, you really need to learn the art of argument and conversation.

            • alex gonzalez: “he is an example of the yankee hype machine.”

              Rick in Boston: “Keith Law had him the #3 draft prospect prior to his draft year. Baseball America had him the #2 prospect in the Hawaiian league. Neither of those are part of the ‘Yankee hype machine’.”

              alex gonzalez: “oh well if keith law said it must be true. no one has ever been wrong about hyping a prospect who turns out to be a nobody.”

              You do see why your response to Rick in Boston doesn’t make any sense, right? You said Brackman is a product of the vaunted Yankees hype maching, and Rick responded that Brackman was hyped by third parties not affiliated with the Yankees. He didn’t point to the other reports about Brackman to prove that Brackman is, in fact, awesome, but to show that your point about Brackman being a product of the big bad Yankees hype machine was false. And he was right. I’d bet that you can’t find an example of the Yankees themselves over-hyping Brackman. If you can’t be reasonable and have an honest give-and-take in a conversation, why would anyone engage in a conversation with you?

        • Tom Zig says:

          He is also recovering from Tommy John surgery and completely relearning how to pitch. Not to mention it is very hard to repeat your delivery when you are 6’10″.

          • Rick in Boston says:

            I think overlooking the 6’10″ part of the equation is the most obvious thing, but possibly the most important. Very few pitchers that tall ever make it to the majors, much less have success at that level. If Brackman was to become Chris Young, then I think we’d all be happy.

            • Lanny says:

              So Brackman should get a pass for being 6’10?

              • Rick in Boston says:

                That’s not what I said Lanny GrantSalBo. What I said was that he’s 6’10″ and it’s an extremely important part of the situation. Very few pitchers of his height even make it to pro ball, much less with his injury issue and having to re-learn how to pitch.

    • Tom Zig says:

      From now on, I will interpret all your comments to be sarcasm.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      Since you’re psychic, can you let me know what the next Powerball numbers are?

    • My new rules of thumb to be observed while browsing the Internet:
      Never read anything written by someone who doesn’t know what the “shift” key is for.

  5. Even now, I still can’t believe he walked ten batters and threw ten wild pitches in 3.1 innings. My mind is still blown.

  6. AndrewYF says:

    Dave Cameron has quite a history of embarrassing comments.

  7. Andrew Brackman = Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn?

    “Low, and he walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. How can these guys lay off pitches that close?”

  8. alex gonzalez, you seem to love everything the Sox do.

    What happened with this kid his first year in the minors?;001dan

  9. Tank Foster says:

    He’s Eppy Calvin LaLouche, only he’ll never make it to The Show.

  10. Rick in Boston says:

    I think Mike’s used this reference before, but at least Brackman isn’t Jason Neighborgall, who hasn’t pitched since 2007 – his career BB/9: 27.2.

  11. TheLastClown says:

    For some of the more formal logicians among us:

    When, in his spurious 2005 article, Dave Cameron makes an unsupported parallel between Papelbon & Clint Nageotte, then paints a prospective trade for Papelbon in a negative light, saying:

    “Would you want to trade Reed for another Clint Nageotte?”

    Is this argumentum ad hominem?

    • Meh, it’s more of a red herring or a Fallacy of the Four Terms than a straight ad hom.

      An ad hom would have said that Papelbon was going to suck because the Red Sox exec who endorsed his drafting also endorsed the Reed-Nageotte trade. Ad homm attacks are about undermining the argument by attacking the credibility of the speaker, generally by bringing up unrelated issues.

  12. Lanny says:

    Time to admit Brackmans a bust. This will probably be the last time that Cashman gives an injury project a major league deal. He’ll be keeping a real player off the 40 man for yrs.

  13. [...] league cameo this season. He has the potential to move fast. 14. Andrew Brackman, SP: You know all about this guy. 15. Dellin Betances, SP: He always strikes out a lot of batters and walks a lot [...]

  14. [...] 24 Yes, Brackman sucked in 2009. I know all about it and wrote extensively about his season here, here, and here. The problem is that besides the number one guy on this list, pretty much no one in the [...]

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