Brackman’s chances of making the team

The Rites of Spring Training
Fashionably late, Rivera shows up to camp
(Julie Jacobson/AP)

It has become tough to believe Brian Cashman‘s public statements. During the past five or so years he has put up many fronts — Bubba Crosby in center field, signing Teixeira as “fantasy land” — which makes it difficult to determine when he’s truthful and when he’s speaking strategically. Yet there are some statements that just feel true. Cashman made one of them yesterday at camp. As Mark Feinsand reports:

[Dellin] Betances and [Manny] Banuelos aren’t earning spots in the rotation out of spring training. They’re going to get their first taste of big-league camp, then they’re going to get slotted into Trenton. They have no chance to make this team.

That comes as no surprise. While Betances and Banuelos both rank highly on most prospect lists, they’re a bit short on experience. Banuelos has thrown just 215.2 innings during his three years pitching in the Yankees’ organization, and Betances has thrown just 299.2 in his five seasons. To place them in the bigs at the outset would likely hamper their development. In fact, given their lack of experience and presumptive workload limits, it’s doubtful that we see either of them in the majors this season.

What’s interesting is what Cashman didn’t say. Not only did he leave a couple of names off of his “no chance” list, but he came out later and reinforced that point.

The other guys are all competing for anything. They’re more advanced, they have more experience and they’re in a better position. Betances and Banuelos may help us down the line, but they’re not coming to camp here to help us now or solve any problems. They’re not advanced enough to be in a position to do that.

The most conspicuous omission is Andrew Brackman, the other Yankees’ top pitching prospect. He made serious strides last season, finishing the year with a 3.01 ERA in 80.2 innings at AA. It would appear that he has a ways to go, but he is also a bit further along than Betances and Banuelos. He’s older, and he has pitched more innings in recent years. While he has just 247.1 innings himself, 140.2 of them came last season. He also has about 150 innings of college ball, which means roughly 400 post-high school innings. That trumps both of the other B’s.

This isn’t to say that Brackman has a real shot to make the team. He, too, probably needs a bit more seasoning in the minors. After all, it was just a year ago that he had fallen off most prospect lists and risked being labeled a bust. There are worse things than having him start the year in AAA. The Yankees do have a number of veteran options with whom they could start the season, leaving Brackman as a backup option if they fail. He, David Phelps, and Hector Noesi are probably best served in this role.

Chances are we’ll see Brackman pitching in the majors, whether in the rotation or in the bullpen, at some point this season. Out of camp, though, it would take quite a showing, combined with quite a meltdown from a couple of other leading candidates, for him to make the team. That’s not a bad thing. If anything it speaks to the team’s depth. They might not have the most favorable situation presently, but it’s pretty clear that their third-best, and most developed, pitching prospect has a chance to help the team this year.

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The Rites of Spring Training
Fashionably late, Rivera shows up to camp
  • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I had the same exact thought when I read about Cashman’s quote over at yankeeanalysts.com this morning (Moshe/Larry/Matt, I’ll accept paypal for the plug). Brackman’s name was certainly conspicuous in its absence. I’m definitely not thinking he has any sort of realistic shot of making the rotation out of Spring Training, but they’re clearly not going to be nearly as protective of him as they are with Banuelos/Betances. (Nor should they, probably, considering his age, spot on the 40-man, etc.)

  • The Real JobaWockeeZ

    I’d rather hope not. Can’t rush these guys.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    I love the idea that there may be a new big three (four? five?) next year and the year after.

    CC-Hughes-AJ-Brackman-B-B-P-N?

    At what point could we expect one of these next six guys to be traded for something else, and what would that be?

    They’re all SP which could go to the pen, we’ve got a glut of catchers. Cano and Tex are locks, the OF is pretty strong but we might need another starter two years from now.

    So, I guess I’m asking which one or two of these guys gets traded for a shortstop next year?

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_mandaura Steve H

    Wally Matthews told me that Banuelos and Betances were ahead of Brackman in their development due to Brack’s lack of innings above AA. Now I’m thoroughly confused. Was Wally dead wrong on something?

    I’d say Brackman has an outside shot if he dominates the spring. He’s fully developed physically, he’s got a major league deal, and he’s not exactly a spring chicken for a prospect. The only thing holding him back really is experience. Experience is big of course, but if he shows he can get major league hitters out consistently, it’s not crazy to think they’d give him a long look.

    • Chip

      Yes, he’s dead wrong

      • Dale Mohorcic

        Wally Matthews says it, you can believe it’s not true. Worst beat writer of them all

  • DF

    Just wanted to throw this out there re: Brackman. Yes, he had really good numbers last year, but he’s old for his league, even in AA really. I have wondered if his success is not a function, at least in part, of his age.

    I’d like to be wrong and be excited about Brackman. Can anybody talk me down?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He’s older but not in terms of pitching experience. He’s only played base exclusively for about three and a half years now, and one of those years he was on the shelf with TJ.

      • DF

        Ok, so when they talk about a player being old for his league, they’re referring to the baseball experience he’s acquired over that time being an advantage? I was probably thinking back to little league where the older kid always dominates because he’s more developed physically. That is probably still true, but I don’t find it hard to believe the experience is what’s really important.

        Gracias. I shall resume my cautious excitement.

        • Accent Shallow

          I think it’s both – at the lower levels, it’s tough to get too excited about a 24 year old beating up a league of 21-22 year olds, you know?

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    i wonder what bo/sal/grant\lanny thinks?

    • Rick in Boston

      Four letters, starts with B ends with UST. I guarantee you, if allowed back for Brackman’s debut, nothing would have changed with him.

      • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I wonder if the RAB filter catches comment attempts by the banned commenters. If so it would probably be pretty awesome to read as a thread.

        • Rick in Boston

          I’d love to see Rose’s election day comments.

        • jsbrendog (returns)

          this would be an awesome open thread or post to the offtopic forum lol

        • Cecala

          http://www.nomaas.com

          You’re welcome

          • whozat

            Well played, sir. Well played indeed.

  • pete

    I think of it less as a conspicuous exclusion of Brackman in Cashman’s comments than an intentionally conspicuous inclusion of Betances and Banuelos – I think generally the team wants players going all-out in spring training, but I think the club is really investing in getting solid 130-150 inning minor league seasons out of those two guys this year and wants both of them (especially Betances, who has had his fair share of injuries) to take it slow in the early goings.

  • Chip

    The nice thing is, if we can get some of these guys ready for next season, we don’t have to worry about CC holding the opt-out over our heads.

    I’d love to see our rotation headlined by Brackman and Manny starting next season (with Betences on the DL obviously, I’m not that optimistic)

    • vin

      Yeah, I’d rather have CC. It’s a might big step down from CC to any pitcher in the organization.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    I agree that brackman will probably start at AAA but I would expect to see him at some point this season, possibly out of the pen to break him in slowly. Guys like Phelps, Noesi (assuming he gets into camp soon) and Warren have a much better chance to come nort with the team if Colon and Garcia flop

  • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

    Is brackman holding a baseball in that picture? Because if he is, he has the biggest hands I have ever seen….

    • Rick in Boston

      Nah, that has to be from Pitcher Fielding Practice.

  • OldYanksFan

    When looking back at the 3 Amigos, I wonder how Cashman and Company view the decisions to bring Phil, Joba and IPK up a bit early.

    They were all really brought up because we were desperate for pitching. None of the 3 were near busts, and Joba was electric in the BP, but would they all have been further along if they had another year at AAA? The innings limits, skipped starts, the SP-RP-SP thingy.. is this something to try and avoid in the future?

    I really don’t think Cashman wants to rush any of the B’s.

    • AndrewYF

      All three prospects were older and further along than Betances and Banuelos.

      Remember: Hughes had 350 innings of minor league ball under his belt before he was brought up. Kennedy was pretty much fully developed, having pitched 3 seasons at USC, and then almost another full season in the minors. Joba, really, was the only one that could have been considered rushed, yet he still pitched in college.

      Betances has never had a healthy season in his career. Banuelos has been only pitching for a few years. They are way, way, way behind where any of the ‘Big Three’ were when they were brought up. Frankly, if they make the team in 2012, they’ll be in roughly the same situation as the ‘big three’ were, yet that’s when everyone is expecting these guys to be ready. So, the big three were rushed, but the ‘Killer Bs’ should be pitching in the majors by next year? Sounds like a big case of hindsight to me.

      • Ed

        It’s not as simple as you’re making it out to be.

        The minors are about two things – developing skills and conditioning the players for a major league season. Kennedy was the only one of the three that had a high enough workload to be major league ready. Hughes was getting close, but could have used another year. Joba’s college workload was about halfway in between Brackman’s and Kennedy’s. It wasn’t crap, but it was still a lot lower than the typical college pitcher. He really should have finished of ’07 starting to get the workload up. It took years to make up for that.

        And in the case of Hughes, he really wasn’t done developing his skills. He worked through the low minors exclusively with his fastball and curve. The plan was always for him to learn a changeup in AAA, but that got abandoned with the early call up. We’re still waiting on him to learn a change up.

  • jim p

    I wonder if stats confirm what my eyes see: That decent pitchers new to the league do fairly well the first time through. And I wonder that in connection with the fantasy of having 5 or 6 pitchers from the minors taking a turn at the fifth spot through the season. Maybe mainly against the lesser teams.

    Just a thought brought on by the fact I’ve never seen our pitching depth in the minors be so strong before.

  • rbizzler

    Personally, I would love to see Brack continue his development as a starter. His turnaround as a prospect has been a very pleasing development over the past season and a half or so.

  • nsalem

    From what I read it seems that we are somewhere in the middle of the top 10 as far as farm systems go. This strikes me as quite an impressive feat if you take into account where we are drafting from. Considering that our highly regarded farm system is top heavy with starting pitchers, where would our system be rated if it was just based on pitching alone? I hope we can find someone who can deliver us length in the 4 or 5 spot, whether it’s Mitre, Colon, Nova, Garcia or maybe the acquistion of a Millwood type. This would allow us to let our prospects develop further and if we did make a mid season deal for a number one or two type pitcher we would be dealing from strength rather than desperation.

    • Chip

      Probably behind the Royals and their amazing collection of lefties, I know the Rays have some pitching too but I don’t think they’re as deep

      • The Real JobaWockeeZ

        Braves are a smidge above us.

  • David

    He could break in as an ideal replacement for Tubby, who then would be included in a trade package for a starter.

  • Cecala

    I would rather see him get some AAA seasoning first maybe like 50 innings or so before being called up to the show. Last year was his first good season so it should be seen if he can repeat it first. That is only like 4-5 starts from Mitre which is tolerable I guess.

  • cranky

    Brackman might not head north with the team out of ST, but he’s got an excellent chance of pitching for the Yankees this year.
    A number of scouts who saw Brackman pitch in July/August of 2010 said he’d looked like he was ready for the big leagues. He made giant leaps in the second half in terms of his development.
    As for starting or relieving, Brackman has been throwing three quality pitches lately. So, as of now, he’s an excellent candidate to be a starter. However, I think he’s going to break in as a reliever. I also think that, as a reliever, he’s going to make a big splash, kinda like Joba did back in 2007.
    And, yes, his presence helps to make Joba expendable.

    • Chip

      He doesn’t need three solid pitches to be a league average starter. I think it was Keith Law (I could be wrong) who mentioned he started throwing a slider towards the end of last year that was absolutely untouchable

  • NJ Andy

    I dunno if this is the best place to put it, but I’ll be at a couple of spring training games this year. I’m writing a couple of articles for my school paper, but is there anything else that I could do down their that would be of special interest to the crew here at RAB? Particular players you want pictures/reviews of?

    Brackman’s a personal favorite of mine, so I’ll def. be following him–anybody else?

    • NJ Andy

      Oh, also. I’m not looking to write articles for RAB or anything. Just for notes to drop in the comments.

      • camilo Gerardo

        story on Jesus, and the reluctance to give him the keys to the castle due to defensive issues if applicable or pitcher relations

        or pitchers that have the tools and repertoire to make MLers look foolish, but their need to learn sequencing to get the full value of their pitches (pitching inside or waste pitches off the corner to open up the plate, scouting reports of hitters)

        Fake some credentials and get us some interviews!

  • YankeesJunkie

    If Brackman makes the team at the start of the season something went terribly terribly wrong, or really really well ( I mean Brackman has pinpoint control and is sitting 95-97 as a starter). Brackman should be given time to develop and he is well on his way as he pitched in 142 IP last year and if everything goes well he will be close to 170 IP.

  • John Cerra

    I think Brackman can be looked at a bit differently than Banuelos and Bettances. He is 25 vs 20 and 19. There is no way of calculating how his time playing center on a major division basketball team added to his “athletic maturity.” We never consider that because we never have to.

    He can pitch 175 innings this year. If Frankie Pillieri’s scouting report is correct, he is approaching major league ready with stuff.
    Besides the great arm and improved control, he has a distinct advantage over many of the other candidates: his 95 mph fastball comes in on a steeper plain and is released closer to the plate, effectively adding velocity by cutting down the hitters reaction time.

    Brackman is my sleeper pick…he wins 16 games combined Scranton and NY. If he is NY to start (and I think that is possible)he is ROY candidate.

    The other B’s….We might see Baneuolos late in the season if and when we need a lefty in the bullpen. As good as Bettances will be,I think he starts AA and moves up when Brackman moves up. Be patient!