Prospect Profile: Gavin Brooks

Damon: I don't want no stinkin' paycut
The RAB Radio Show, November 24, 2009

Gavin Brooks

Gavin Brooks | LHP

Brooks grew up in Vista, California, which is pretty much halfway between Anaheim and San Diego. He attended Rancho Buena Vista High School, where he enjoyed not only a decorated baseball career, but a successful basketball career as well. Brooks took home a whole bunch of hardware with the Longhorns, so it’s easiest to recap this bullet-point style:

  • Three-year varsity letterwinner
  • 2003 Rancho Buena Vista MVP
  • 2005 Rancho Buena Vista Most Outstanding Pitcher
  • 2005 Aflac All-American
  • 2005 All-Avocado League honors
  • 2006 Rancho Buena Vista Male Athlete of the Year
  • 2006 San Diego Union-Tribune All-Academic Team

Heading into his senior season, Brooks had put himself in position to be picked in the first two rounds of the 2006 draft, however his stock took a hit when he had surgery to repair a very small tear in his rotator cuff the summer after his junior season. He threw only eight innings as a senior because of the injury, instead doing his damage with the bat (.375 AVG and .573 OBP). Because of the shoulder problem, Baseball America ranked Brooks just the 64th best prospect in the state heading into the draft. With a very strong commitment to UCLA and Scott Boras serving as his adviser, Brooks went undrafted.

In his first season on campus, Brooks proved the shoulder injury was behind him by making 18 starts and setting a school freshman record with 110.2 IP. His 98 strikeouts were also a freshman record, and he walked just 30 batters. Brooks finished the season with three consecutive complete games, striking out 12 while allowing just two runs in eight innings against Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regionals. Unfortunately, the Bruins’ offense didn’t do him any favors, and UCLA was eliminated thanks to a 2-1 loss.

Brooks was expected to be a rotation stalwart as a sophomore, but he struggled in 14 starts, walking 53 batters against 62 strikeouts in just 71 IP. Despite his struggles, Brooks was named an All-Pac-10 Team honorable mention. He also earned second team Pac-10 All-Academic honors. For the second straight summer, Brooks pitched for the Chatham A’s of the prestigious Cape Code League.

A question mark coming into his junior year, Brooks made just one start before volunteering to move to the bullpen because the team suffered some crushing losses in the late innings. He made a team high 24 appearances, and his eight saves were the most by a UCLA pitcher since 1997. For the second straight year, Brooks earned an All-Pac-10 Team honorable mention, as well as a spot on the Pac-10 All-Academic second team. He again struggled with his control, posting a 36-20 K/BB ratio in 36.1 IP.

Baseball America ranked Brooks the 52nd best prospect in the state of California for the 2009 Draft, and there was a chance he may have returned to UCLA for his senior year if he wasn’t drafted high enough. The Yankees selected Brooks with their 9th round pick, #285 overall, and he signed quickly for an above slot $125,000 bonus.

Pro Debut
The Yankees assigned Brooks to Short Season Staten Island after signing, where he served as one of manager Josh Paul’s most trusted – and most used – relievers. His 30 appearances were fourth most in the NY-Penn League (behind three of his teammates), and his 0.62 ERA was second lowest among pitchers with at least 40 IP. Brooks allowed just 27 hits in 43.1 IP, putting up a 48-24 K/BB ratio with a 3.00 GB/FB ratio.

Scouting Report
Shoulder surgery has sapped some of Brooks’ pure velocity, but he can still dial it up to the mid-90’s on occasion. He generally sits around 91-92. Brooks has the ability to start because his best pitch a sinking changeup that neutralizes righthanders; he had a reverse split with Staten Island and generally in college as well. His third pitch is a breaking ball that varies between a slider and a curveball depending on the day; it’s not consistent at all.

Brooks has a relatively free and easy delivery, though his arm action is long in the back and hinders his command. He walked 4.25 batters per nine innings in college, and 4.98 with Staten Island. On the bright side, Brooks walked just seven batters in his final 15 outings of the season (23.2 IP), though it’s something he’ll have to continue to work at. The shoulder surgery is far enough in the past that it’s safe to say he’s recovered from it, and otherwise he hasn’t dealt with any arm issues.

Here’s a clip of Brooks pitching in relief for UCLA this spring, and another of him with Staten Island.

2010 Outlook
I’m not sure what the Yanks have in store for Brooks next year. They could opt to give him another shot as a starter, or they could look to move him quickly as a power armed lefty reliever. Regardless of how they use him, a Pac-10 veteran like Brooks is more than prepared for the High-A Florida State League.

My Take
I loved the pick. I’ve been a big Gavin Brooks fan since he came out of high school, and even though he struggled at UCLA and moved to the bullpen, hard-throwing lefthanders are hard to come by. Because he has such a good change and handles righties, he projects to be more than just your garden variety lefty specialist. The Yanks have shown the ability to find quality relievers in the later rounds (David Robertson, Phil Coke, Mike Dunn), and Brooks has a chance to continue that trend.

Photo Credit: Flickr user mark6mauno

Damon: I don't want no stinkin' paycut
The RAB Radio Show, November 24, 2009
  • dave

    very nice — good to see the profiles get going

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Gavin Brooks? Man that shook up the suicide pool for Prospects Profile.

    • Mike Axisa

      Just keeping you on your toes. I also bumped it up a day figuring this place would be a ghost town tomorrow.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Family be damned! I’m here all day tomorrow, Mike. Tomorrow night? Not so much, the air will be just right for drinking.

        • JSquared

          Miss a day on RAB… Nah… isn’t this the reason they invented the blackberry?????

        • Steve H

          Please tell me you had your finger in the air Sheen/Estevez style as you typed this.

      • JMK aka The Overshare

        Why? What’s going on tomorrow? Some sort of holiday or something?

  • JSquared

    I seen Gavin Brooks play over the summer, and like his mechanics. He throws well and knows how to pitch. Good pick by the Yankees. Warren and Brooks were signed quickly after the draft and were dominant at Staten Island.

    • Matt ACTY/BBD

      I really like Warren.

      • JSquared

        He was a pleasant surprise. Seen him pitch for NC, thought he could have a future in MLB, than the Yankees selectedh im, than he puts up a ridiculous ERA with great K/9 and K/BB in Staten Island… Love That Pick Right Now!!

        • Christos

          When i talked to Dustin Ackley, he said that Adam Warren is a real good guy.

          • Thomas

            Adam Warren may be a real good guy, but will he help find your lost dog?

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              Saint Tyler, the patron saint of Lost Dogs.

              • Christos

                I always thought that commercial was wacked.

  • Sweet Lou

    “For the second straight summer, Brooks pitched for the Chatham A’s of the prestigious Cape Code League.”

    Hopefully, he pitches better than Freddie Prinze, Jr.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Hopefully he didn’t date a chick with a man face.

      • scoopemup

        A Turducken perhaps?

      • Sweet Lou

        You think that Jessica Biel has a man face!?! Who are you dating? Bar Rafaeli?

        • JMK aka The Overshare

          Nobody cares about her face (which is pretty good, but not great).

    • Rose

      They’re not the Chatham “A’s” (Athletics) anymore. Major League Baseball wanted significant amounts of money for them to use the name (as well as merchandise royalties, etc) so they changed their name and logo. They’re now the Chatham Anglers. Such a horrible substitution name.

      • JohnC

        Can’t wait for the profile on Caleb Cotham

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        They should have changed their name to the “Chatham Aesthetics”.

        • Marcus


  • Homer

    Keep an eye on this one. Yankees fans may also want o know that Brooks was injured during his sophomore year at UCLA (blister on pitching finger from his two seamer and a hamstring injury to his plant leg resulting in the aforementioned control problems). This kid is a gamer. Check out his numbers at Staten Island with runners on base. Clutch.

  • JMK aka The Overshare

    Hey Mike, quick question: What’s the absolute ceiling on Brooks? #3 starter? What’s the most realistic? Power reliever?

    • Mike Axisa

      Yeah, that’s absolute best case. More likely he’s a #5 or a better-than-LOOGY reliever.

      • JMK aka The Overshare

        Gotcha. Thanks!

  • King

    I imagine they will start him for 2010 season which will give him more value as a trade chip in the near future. By 2011 they will see where he’s more valuable as a trade chip or a power lefty out of the pen.

  • Chip

    I’d imagine they’ll have him starting next year if for no other reason than to make him work more on his secondary pitches. It seems the Yankees like to do this with their younger relievers and it’s working out great thus far!

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