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Red Forman
02-23-2009, 01:39 PM
6-Foot-10 Yanks Prospect Is Trying to Stand Out


TAMPA, Fla. — There are worse places to be in October than Hawaii, on the roster of the Waikiki Beach Boys, playing winter league baseball. Still, it pained Andrew Brackman to think where he could have been.

Brackman watched from paradise as David Price pitched the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series. Price was the first player taken in the 2007 draft, a slot Brackman might have held if his elbow had been healthy that spring at North Carolina State. Instead, he tumbled to the Yankees at the 30th spot.

After undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery on Aug. 24, 2007, Brackman spent the next regular season recovering. Price and others zoomed by.

“I see all my friends who got drafted the same class as me, like David Price, and I see how good they’re doing and how they get to play,” Brackman said. “It makes me want to get back so much quicker. It’s frustrating sitting on the couch. It was hard to watch last year.”

At least in Hawaii, Brackman was pitching. His results were uneven — he had a 5.56 earned run average in eight starts — but there were encouraging signs. He had 36 strikeouts in 34 innings, allowing only 31 hits. At 6 feet 10 inches with a fastball, a changeup and a curve, the right-handed Brackman was sometimes overpowering.

“I spoke to a lot of the scouts who saw him in Hawaii,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president for amateur scouting, “and when he was good, they said he was dominating and has the potential to be really special.”

Yet there were other days, Oppenheimer said, when it was clear Brackman was still recovering. His command was erratic — he walked 25 — and he showed that again Sunday when throwing batting practice at Steinbrenner Field. Brackman’s third pitch sailed high and away off the back of the batting cage.

Manager Joe Girardi was watching, and he said Brackman impressed him with the way he made adjustments during the session. If he made a mistake, Girardi said, Brackman fixed it on the next pitch. That was no accident.

Brackman’s athleticism is a big reason the Yankees gave him a four-year, $4.55 million contract. He fielded his position smoothly and was nimble enough to play for the Wolfpack basketball team. Even with an elbow problem, the Yankees decided he was worth a gamble.

“The standards we have and try to keep with the Yankees are a little bit higher,” Oppenheimer said. “When there’s a potential for impact, we might have to take a little bit more of a risk to get the type of player who can play in New York.”

The year before, in 2006, the Yankees chose reliever Mark Melancon in the ninth round, undeterred by the same elbow condition Brackman had. Melancon missed 2007 but climbed three levels last year and worked 95 stellar innings.

“Every day I’m happy my arm feels good,” said Melancon, who also threw Sunday. “You take that for granted when you’re not hurt. Once you get hurt, you realize how important it is to take care of it.”

Brackman applied a renewed seriousness to his workouts while he recovered from the surgery. He weighed 270 pounds a year ago and now weighs 230. It is a new approach for Brackman, who struggled to add bulk for years.

“I’d get mad if I was less than what I thought I would be — then I’d just shove my face with food,” he said. “I thought the weight would help me when I was pitching, but I think it hurt me. My arm got a little slower, and my conditioning was awful. I couldn’t run.”

Brackman said the weight loss had helped with his body control, and he hoped that would improve his mechanics. At 6-10, he has found few pitchers he can emulate. According to baseball-reference.com, only five pitchers in major league history have been as tall.

It will probably be a while before Brackman can be the sixth. At 23, he is six months older than Phil Hughes but is likely to start the season with a Class A team. As eager as Brackman is to reach the majors, he knows he must be patient.

“Every day that I throw here, I’m getting my feel back for every one of my pitches,” Brackman said. “I’ve just got to throw more. I need innings. Hawaii was mainly just to go out to see if my arm was going to stand up. And now I realize I need to spend more time setting up hitters, just being around the game. I know how to play; it’s just doing it, and that’s going to take experience.”




http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/sports/baseball/23yankees.html?ref=sports

NorrisHopper30
02-23-2009, 04:41 PM
Keep up the good work Brackman, all of us Crusaders are proud of you!

Ghosts of 1990
02-23-2009, 05:58 PM
The summer I moved to Cincinnati (2004) he was a senior in HS. He was the talk of the town.

juvey21
02-23-2009, 06:34 PM
i was hoping the reds would draft him...played him in basketball at the junior high level when he was SHORT and SKINNY...good luck brackman

Red Forman
02-24-2009, 05:37 PM
Andrew Brackman is #92 in Baseball America's

2009 Top 100 Prospects.....




http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/2009/267702.html