Brackman has a big year ahead of him


In early 2007, just as RAB came on the scene, Andrew Brackman dominated draft talk. He was a projected Top 5 pick, and with good reason. The 6’10″ dual-sport player sported not only a mid-90s fastball, but a curveball to go with it. He was raw at the time, having thrown only 70 college innings, but the potential was certainly there. He probably would have gone Top 5, too, if there hadn’t been injury concerns during his final college season that led to him sitting out games towards the end. The pre-draft rumors had him needing Tommy John surgery, so down the first round he slipped.

Photo credit: AP/Julie Jacobson

The Yankees, picking at No. 30 after a huge 2006 season, jumped on Brackman. Of course, they probably preferred Rick Porcello, who also tumbled through the first round, but the Tigers took him two picks prior. So the Yankees, seeing no one with nearly the ceiling of Brackman left on the board, took the plunge. It took a major league deal and a year of waiting for him to recover from TJS, but at the start of 2009 Brackman looked ready to start his professional career.

His first season, as we saw, did not go very well. Through his first 19 starts he pitched just 85.2 innings, or about 4.5 innings per start. His 6.72 ERA was certainly a concern, but not nearly as big as his 6.72 BB/9. In June and July he had more walks than innings pitched. A conversion to the bullpen in late July seemed to help, as Brackman’s final 21 innings went a bit better, as he allowed 17 hits and walked 12 to 24 strikeouts.

Now Brackman faces a huge challenge. As he moves up the ladder to Advanced-A Tampa, he must prove that he’s made adjustments. The Times’s new Yankees beat writer Ben Shpigel profiles Brackman, talking to Charleston pitching coach Jeff Ware in addition to farm director Mark Newman and the pitcher himself. They talk about comfort level and how Brackman might have been overthinking his mechanics. As Pitching guru Nardi Contreras said, “everything was out of whack.” Sounds about right.

Chances are, Brackman won’t turn into the ace pitcher the Yankees envisioned in 2007. That’s not just because of his problems last season, though. A pitcher like Brackman presents an enormous gamble, and those high-risk, high-reward moves have a bigger chance of busting than not. The Yankees wanted to take the risk, wanted the upside of a Top 5 pick, knowing they might not get one for another decade or two. It’s easy to look back and say the Yanks messed up, but I think they made the right call back in 07.

Categories : Minors


  1. Brackman has a big year ahead of him
    by Joseph Pawlikowski

    This will end badly.

  2. Steve H says:

    Go back and look at all other players taken with the 30th pick. Not a great track record there. It was worth the risk, and with the Yankees picking late every year, you need to take risks with high upside guys like Brackman.

    • The rest of that 2007 first round, post Brackman:

      31 Nationals LHP *Josh Smoker (minors) Calhoun HS (Calhoun, GA)
      32 Giants 2B *Nick Noonan (minors) Parker HS (San Diego, CA)
      33 Braves 3B *Jon Gilmore (minors) Iowa City HS (Iowa City, IA)
      34 Reds 3B *Todd Frazier (minors) Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)
      35 Rangers OF *Julio Borbon University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN)
      36 Cardinals RHP *Clayton Mortenson Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA)
      37 Phillies C *Travis d’Arnaud (minors) Lakewood HS (Lakewood, CA)
      38 Blue Jays LHP *Brett Cecil University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
      39 Dodgers LHP *James Adkins (minors) University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN)
      40 Padres OF *Kellen Kulbacki (minors) James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)
      41 Athletics 1B *Sean Doolittle (minors) University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
      42 Mets RHP *Eddie Kunz Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)
      43 Giants C *Jackson Williams (minors) University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
      44 Rangers RHP *Neil Ramirez (minors) Kempsville HS (Virginia Beach, VA)
      45 Blue Jays SS *Justin Jackson (minors) Roberson HS (Asheville, NC)
      46 Padres SS *Drew Cumberland (minors) Pace HS (Pace, FL)
      47 Mets LHP *Nathan Vineyard (minors) Woodland HS (Cartersville, GA)
      48 Cubs C *Josh Donaldson (minors) Auburn University (Auburn, AL)
      49 Nationals OF *Michael Burgess (minors) Hillsborough HS (Tampa, FL)
      50 D’backs RHP *Wes Roemer (minors) California State University, Fullerton (Fullerton, CA)
      51 Giants 2B *Charlie Culberson (minors) Calhoun HS (Calhoun, GA)
      52 Mariners 3B *Matt Mangini (minors) Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)
      53 Reds RHP *Kyle Lotzkar (minors) South Delta SS (Delta, BC)
      54 Rangers RHP *Tommy Hunter University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
      55 RedSox LHP *Nick Hagadone (minors) University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
      56 Blue Jays RHP *Trystan Magnuson (minors) University of Louisville (Louisville, KY)
      57 Padres C *Mitch Canham (minors) Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)
      58 Angels RHP *Jonathan Bachanov University HS (Orlando, FL)
      59 Athletics OF *Corey Brown (minors) Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, OK)
      60 Tigers RHP *Brandon Hamilton (minors) Stanhope Elmore HS (Millbrook, AL)
      61 D’backs C *Ed Easley Mississippi State University (Mississippi State, MS)
      62 RedSox SS *Ryan Dent Wilson HS (Long Beach, CA)
      63 Padres LHP *Cory Luebke Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
      64 Padres OF *Danny Payne Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

      Are there some prospects that “hit” there that would be nice to have? Sure, of course. But none of those guys were as universally well regarded as elite prospects; none of them had then (or still have now) the ceiling of Brackman.

      It’s not like we passed on Jason Heyward or Madison Bumgarner to take Brackman. He was the only truly elite prospect left on the board. We leapt on him, as we should have.

  3. No wonder Brackman struggled last year: look, he doesn’t even have a ball in his pitching hand!

    Hard to throw it over the plate if it’s not in your hand or in your glove. That’s Baseball 101, Andrew. What a dumb ass.

  4. Randy A. says:

    Even more ridiculous part of this picture:

    Carl Pavano actually participating in baseball activities while in a Yankee uniform. A Bigfoot-esque moment by Carl.

  5. Jamal G. says:

    Considering his injury concerns, the fact that Carl Pavano is lurking in the background is just too perfect.

  6. This piece is unwarranted. Brackman is an unqualified success already. He has a great strikeout rate and was certainly worth the cost of both the pick, the signing bonus, and the ML contract.

    /bizarro bo’d

  7. Paul M. says:

    Brackman to teh bullpen! It is obvious that the only place he can have success with his bulldog mentality is in the pen like a bull in a china shop.

    • Rose says:

      What’s weird is that I still play MVP Baseball 2005 (I’m in season 2012 btw)…and pitcher “Sean Burnett” of the Pirates is like one of the best pitchers in the game with the highest stamina known the man…and I used to be like who is this guy? And never heard from him again…just read on MLBTR that he’s going to arbitration with the Nationals…and he’s in their bullpen? What happened to him?? Hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Brackman. Nobody wants the Sean Burnett style career…

      Although, I’d be happy appearing in a video game and having them evaluate me as one of the best out there…if only for a small time being. Not that happy though.

  8. Thomas says:

    The title is a prediction, “Brackman has a big year ahead of him.”

  9. Simon B. says:

    To think they could’ve kept Wang on with less than half of what they gave Brackman. Terrible pick and signing.

  10. JohnC says:

    In 3 years, the Yanks Staff will be known as the “CC and the Killer Bs”. CC, Burnett, Brackman, Bleich, and Betances. You heard it here first!

  11. Chris says:

    Ahh…it reminds me of an old spring training pic I had as a kid that showed Brien Taylor warming up with Pascual Perez in the background autographing a bottle of Soul Glo for a young fan.

  12. His first season, as we saw, did not go very well. Through his first 19 starts he pitched just 85.2 innings, or about 4.5 innings per start. His 6.72 ERA was certainly a concern, but not nearly as big as his 6.72 BB/9. In June and July he had more walks than innings pitched. A conversion to the bullpen in late July seemed to help, as Brackman’s final 21 innings went a bit better, as he allowed 17 hits and walked 12 to 24 strikeouts.

    Now Brackman faces a huge challenge. As he moves up the ladder to Advanced-A Tampa, he must prove that he’s made adjustments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxNX5M_XSeA (safe)

  13. camilo Gerardo says:

    “On Thursday, the first workout for pitchers and catchers, Brackman threw a bullpen session that Contreras raved about.”


  14. mryankee says:

    I am sick of reading of how our guys will not work out and people are just giving up on Brackman way too early. If he were in another system we would be hearing about patience and there would still be tremendous optismism. I would give him all the time he needs if he makes it at 25-26 and is dominant I think it would be worth the wait.

    • pete says:

      dude seriously…each of your comments on this subject has portrayed the general opinion (here) as so much more negative/pessimistic than it actually is that I think you are just subconsciously pessimistic. All that’s been said here is that it’s not likely that a 23 year old in High A who has never succeeded at any professional level and only had marginal success in college and has injury concerns will become an impact player. Not LIKELY. Nobody is saying “this guy’s a bum! trade him! trade Cashman! He’s an idiot!”. They’re just saying the patently true – high risk high reward picks DO actually come with high risks. Andrew Brackman and Gerrit Cole are the poster children for that. But that doesn’t mean the yankees were wrong to take either of them, and nobody here (except Simon B) is saying they were.

      So, to be clear: Andrew Brackman is not being written off. He is being conceded as a long shot at this point. That could easily change, however, with one good season, just as it still could with Betances. But they both still have to do it before they can truly be considered stud prospects again.

    • Bo says:

      How long do we wait for him?

      You do realize most guys his size do not become major leaguers right?

  15. Omar says:

    Dan Bard is realistically the best case scenario.

  16. chriso says:

    Lots of silly commentary here.
    Brackman is a huge kid, coming off of an injury/surgery. He stunk through his first 3/4 of a season, then was very, very good, a trend which continued through instructs. And a bunch of you have already thrown in the towel on him.

    • Zack says:

      That analysis wasnt his season at all; read below. Dont call other dumb without knowing what you’re talking about first.

      “In his first nine starts, he threw 50.2 innings, pitching to a 3.55 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. His peripherals were strong as well”

      “The next nine starts following that one were better, relatively speaking, but still atrocious by any measure”

      “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”

      • chriso says:

        Uhhh, I wasn’t necessarily calling you, or anyone else, dumb. I was referring to the comments.
        I’ve reported accurately that he stunk through 3/4 of his first season, then was very good in the bullpen and in instructs and it’s dumb to give up on a kid like that at this point in time. If you haven’t given up on him then, hey, you’re not making a dumb choice. But look at the messages. LOTS of dumb stuff.

    • pete says:

      ok seriously. you and mryankee should throw a party and complain about how pessimistic you assume everybody here is without actually reading the comments to check on that.

      the general opinion here is this: Brackman’s upside has not gone away. His chances of achieving it, not particularly high to begin with, have gone down. But not to the point where he isn’t a prospect anymore, just to the point where it’s unreasonable to call him an elite prospect right now. How is that “throwing in the towel”?

    • Zack says:

      That wasnt his season at all. He started off good, completely lost it, then moved to the pen and did pretty good.

  17. Bo says:

    The quibble anyone with a brain has is giving this guy a major league roster spot.

    He was a giant project. Why waste a spot?

    Some guys don’t make. The track record for 6;10 pitchers with arm issues isn’t very high.

  18. Shawn says:

    The kids pitched ONE professional season, & it was after Tommy John surgery. Last years work was just to get him some innings & build stamina while he recovers. His lack of control & wild pitches were due to the major surgery & his loss of speed during the year was due to a loss of stamina, because hes never thrown over 100 innings in a season, with less than 200 total innings before last year. It takes 2 years to fully bounce back from that kind of surgery. Watch Liriano this year. And sometimes it does take taller strikeout pitchers more time & work to repeat their delivery consistently. When they dont they will walk alot of batters. Same problem with Randy Johnson (whos the same height) early in his career in Seattle. Hopefully Andrew has the same simple problem & uses the same fix. Lets give him a 2nd year/chance before we write him off.

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