Reds sign Andrew Brackman

It seemed curious when, in early November, the Yankees declined their $2 million option on Andrew Brackman. That doesn’t seem too unreasonable for a former No. 1 pick, especially one who has, at times, shown promise. The reasons for the Yankees cutting bait weren’t immediately clear, so the possibility remained that he’d re-sign with the team on a minor league deal. That is no longer an option. According to Jon Heyman, the Reds have signed Brackman to a one-year deal at the major league minimum. He grew up in Cincinnati, so I’m sure that factored into his decision. While the Yankees optioned him three times — 2009, 2010, and 2011 — the Reds can apply for a fourth option since he used up his three original options within his first five pro seasons. Brackman was always a pipe dream of a prospect for the Yanks. Here’s hoping him the best in Cincy.

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Yankees release Andrew Brackman

On a conference call with reporters, Brian Cashman confirmed that the team did not exercise Andrew Brackman‘s option for 2012 and the right-hander is now a free agent. Had the Yankees picked up the option, they would have paid him a $1M salary in the big leagues and a $500k salary in the minors according to Keith Law.

Brackman should still be under team control as a pre-arbitration-eligible player since he has less than three years of service time, but a clause in his contract stipulated that the team must release him if they declined the option. Presumably, the Yankees could still re-sign their 2007 first round pick to a minor league deal or something. The 40-man roster now sits at 34, but Colin Curtis must still be activated off the 60-day DL.

Brackman joins the list of September call-ups, Pendleton DFA’d

In addition to George Kontos, Ramiro Pena, Hector Noesi, and Greg Golson, Andrew Brackman joined the Yankees as a September call-up today. This isn’t terribly surprising; he finished the Triple-A season well and is already on the 40-man roster, so there was little reason not to call him up. Remember, Brackman was on the roster last September, he just didn’t pitch at all. Still no update on Dellin Betances though, who apparently may also get the call this month.

In an unfortunate bit of news, Lance Pendleton was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Kontos. That’s a shame, a damn shame. I’ll miss you, Pants Lendleton.

Update: Via Marc Carig, Ryan Pope cleared waivers and was outrighted to the minors. He was designated for assignment last week to make room on the roster for either Jesus Montero or Scott Proctor, take your pick.

Brackman goes back to the basics

It’s been a disappointing season for 2007 first round pick Andrew Brackman to say the least, and he hit rock bottom in a nine walk, ten out start on July 29th. As Tim Bontemps writes, that outing caused Brackman to reevaluate things and get back to worked for him before. “You’re looking for help, and I guess the only person who can help you is yourself,” said Brackman, who decided to go back to his old college delivery. “It’s just feeling comfortable. I guess I just wasn’t comfortable with my mechanics at the beginning of the season, and now I am.”

The biggest difference between his current (college) motion and his old delivery from earlier in the season is the placement of his hands. Before they were right around his belt when he started his motion, now they’re up higher around his chest. “Even in my bullpen sessions, my command has been 100 times better,” added Brackman. “Even just tossing, I can hit the man in the chest. It’s so difficult when you’re out there and you’re throwing it over the guy’s head and into the stands when you’re playing catch.  It just feels natural now. I’m actually throwing the ball.” You can see the old delivery here, but unfortunately the MLB.com draft video of his college days appears to have been taken down. The (very) early returns are promising, but we’ve got a long, long way to go before seeing if any real improvement has been made.

Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Baseball America posted a midseason (half) update to their preseason top 100 prospects list, and you can see the list for free. You’ll need a subscription to see the analysis, however. Jesus Montero fell from number three overall to number eight, though they caution everyone to not “be swayed by [his] so-so first half, his hit/power tools are still the same.” Manny Banuelos jumps from number 41 to number 13 (“Was dominating in spring training, but stuff isn’t as firm now as it was”) and Dellin Betances from 43 to 26 (“Impressive stuff, but Betances rarely makes it look easy”). Gary Sanchez (preseason #30), Andrew Brackman (#73), and Austin Romine (#98) did not figure into the updated top 50.

BA also put together a stock up/down report (subs. req’d), with J.R. Murphy making the Stock Up section. “[Scouts] report he’s improved significantly on defense, as he threw out 27 percent of opposing baserunners and polished up his receiving. He’s still an offensive catcher, but he’s more of a catcher than ever before.” We’ve heard about the improved defense before. Brackman made the Stock Down section: “His fastball velocity remains inconsistent but has more consistently dipped into the average range … Brackman’s confidence has taken a hit, and scouts report he throws his curve when he most needs a strike.” One good, one not so good.