Assessing Brackman’s Season, Part III


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.

Over the past two days we’ve looked at Good Brackman and Bad Brackman, so now it’s time to wrap this all up with Reliever Brackman.

* * *

After things took a turn for the worst, Brackman was moved to the bullpen in late July. As scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said in his interview with Mike Ashmore, “sometimes you have to deviate from the plan a little bit and take a step backwards to go forwards.” The move was also made in part to control his innings, but more importantly something had to be done to at least limit the damage.

Surprisingly, Brackman was actually pretty decent out of the bullpen, putting up a 2.57 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. His peripherals were encouraging as well:

10.29 K/9
5.14 BB/9
2.00 K/BB
7.29 H/9
0.00 HR/9
.304 BABIP
2.63 FIP

He did allow at least one run in five of his first six relief appearances, but his final four outings were nothing short of stellar. In ten innings Brackman allowed just six hits and struck out nine, but more importantly he didn’t walk anyone, didn’t hit anyone, and didn’t chuck any wild pitches. Oh sure, it definitely might just be a small sample size fluke thing, but if nothing else it at least gives him a reason to keep his chin up after such a trying year, and the Yankees a reason to be cautiously optimistic.

I don’t have any information on how Brackman’s  stuff looked as a reliever, and I’m very curious to see if anything played up. If you stumble across any info, please, send it my way. Baseball America’s year-end Prospect Hot Sheet just notes that he showed “an average fastball that often dipped into the 80s, a diminished curveball and well below-average control” throughout the year, which echoes what we’ve heard the last two days.

As a whole, this was unquestionably a disappointing year for the big guy. Instead of progress there was regress, and the only signs of encouragement came from four meaningless relief appearances at the end of the year when Charleston was already out of the playoff race. However, despite all that, it would be incorrect to call it a lost year of development. Adversity isn’t the worst thing in the world for young players, as people learn more from the bad times than they do the good. Whether or not Brackman can put whatever lessons he’s learned into practice remains to be seen.

If there’s one thing to accept as a no strings attached positive, it’s that he stayed healthy all year and made every appearance asked of him without incident, crossing the 100 IP mark for the first time in his life. Brackman can head home for the winter knowing the elbow held up all season and that he at last finished with on a little bit of a high note. Durability is one less question he’ll have to answer in 2010.

As easy as it would be to write Brackman off after the brutal year he just went through, it’s definitely too early to call it quits on the kid. Depending on how his Spring Training goes, he could be assigned to High-A Tampa to start 2010, although heading back to Charleston is a distinct possibility. I assume the team will have Brackman give it another go as a starter, as they should because they don’t have anything to lose by letting him pitch out of the rotation in the lower levels next year or even the year after.

Of course, if his stuff and control doesn’t come back soon, it’s not going to matter where he’s pitching.

Categories : Analysis, Minors


  1. You sold me. Let’s make him a reliever permanently.

    Any miscellaneous idiot

  2. Reggie C. (Miscellaneous Realist) says:

    Ask Theo if he’s upset as to the end result of converting Daniel Bard to reliever. If the velocity can return to pre-TJ days then Brackman best serves the 40 man roster by getting groomed as an impact reliever. There arent many solid-to-great 6’10″ fireballers out there.

  3. Mike Pop says:

    All this means nothing to me, Mike. How many wins and losses did he have, that’s what I want to know.

    But seriously, at least he got his innings in. I wasn’t expecting him to be great but definitely not this bad. W/e though. Next season should be more fun.

  4. I’m obviously hopeful that he can remain a starter and the Yankees should keep running him out there every five days until he shows he can’t do it, but realistically, how long should they give him until they decide they should covert him?

  5. Accent Shallow says:

    At what point would the organization consider a permanent bullpen move?

    I have to think it wouldn’t be next year, even if he really stinks it up. 2011?

  6. Makavelli says:

    3 separate posts on Brackman’s SEASON???

    What’s next? 4 separate posts on a Ricky Ledee Appreciation Thread?? lol

  7. Tim says:

    What a bust.

  8. Doug says:

    “If there’s one thing to accept as a no strings attached positive, it’s that he stayed healthy all year”

    do we know this as a fact? because it certainly looked like he was pitching injured

  9. A.D. says:

    Obviously not what one wanted from Brack out of the season, but players have come back from worse, and at least he did have a good strikeout rate.

  10. JohnnyC says:

    Just something to think about: throwing overhand is unnatural and causes undue stress on the arm. Convert Brackman to a submarine pitcher and make him the 8th inning guy. Solved!

    BTW, is it true that our friend alex gonzalez posts on Red Sox blogs as jorge posada?

    • Tom Zig says:

      A 6’10″ submariner…dear lord.

      Actually Alex Gonzalez posts on Red Sox blogs as Ramiro Pena. Keeping with the pattern of all-glove-no-bat middle infielders.

  11. CountryClub says:

    Mike Ashmore had an interview with Nardi a few weeks ago and in it Nardi said that Brackman’s stuff had come back. I don’t remember if he gave velocity readings or not, but either way you;d have to take him at his word.

  12. Doug says:

    from callis’ current chat:

    Ben (NY, NY)
    Should I be worried about Andrew Brackman’s poor year? Or is this normal for post-Tommy John recovery. By most reports his velocity was way down and had little command of his breaking pitches.

    Jim Callis (2:44 PM)
    I’d be at least a little worried. It was nice that he stayed healthy all year, but his stuff was disappointing and his control was a mess. He did have more success out of the bullpen late in the year, and that may be his ticket to the big leagues.

    is this our esteemed mr. kabak? actually not sure he’s from NY but he’s who I first thought of with this current thread and all

  13. Joey Chestnut says:

    Wow, a 3 part post on a guy who most likey will never make it.

  14. Bo says:

    Brackman fell in the draft for reasons. He wasnt a cant miss prospect. The guy cant throw strikes. And its not like hes 19 here.

    It wouldnt be a big deal if he failed. Most prospects do. The only issue is his spot on the 40 man.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      But who has he been keeping off of the 40-man this year? In the future it might be an issue, but it’s not like the Yankeees haven’t had flexibility with the 40-man this year.

    • Brackman fell in the draft for reasons.

      Yes. Correct. Absolutely correct, Bo. Spot on. Well said.

      He wasnt a cant miss prospect. The guy cant throw strikes. And its not like hes 19 here.

      No. Those are not the reasons Andrew Brackman fell in the draft. Not at all. If you made a list of the top 5 reasons Andrew Brackman fell in the draft, none of those reasons would be in the top 5.

      The top five reasons he fell in the draft are:
      1) He had a serious injury concern with indications of looming TJS
      2) He had a huge bonus demand and required an ML contract
      3) He was a Boras advisee
      4) He was a two-sport athlete
      5) He was raw and tall and thus likely a slow-developer

      • Rockdog says:

        Spot on. And, as most of the coherent folks have been saying … MOST PITCHING PROSPECTS (EVEN GOOD ONES) DO NOT MAKE IT TO THE SHOW.

  15. [...] 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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