Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yankees Move A Bust

I'm no Young MC and Andrew Brackman is no Randy Johnson. Many an eyebrow was raised when the Yankees selected Brackman with their first round pick (30th overall) in the 2007 MLB amateur draft.

The team already knew that Brackman needed Tommy John surgery, but still felt that picking the former N.C. State Wolfpack basketball player was a slam dunk. Were they ever wrong. Tuesday, the Yankees declined the 2012 option on Brackman, making him a free agent. While there's always a possibility the Yankees could bring him back with a minor league deal, the soon to be 26-yr old is likely headed to a new organization.

It's well documented that it's a difficult transition to the big leagues for exceptionally tall pitchers and the 6'10" Brackman fell in that category. It took Randy Johnson years to perfect the art of pitching, but not everyone is so lucky. The Mariners had another big lefty, 6'10" Ryan Anderson, in their farm system and dubbed him "Little Unit" as an homage to Johnson. It also told just how much the M's thought about Anderson.

Anderson was rated a top 25 prospect by Baseball America for five straight years (1998-2002). He averaged better than 12 strikeouts per nine innings, but injuries and a questionable work ethic ended his baseball career after the 2005 season. He never made it to the Major Leagues.

Will Brackman have the same fate? After rehab from surgery, Brackman pitched for Charleston in 2009 and was, as expected, not very good. He showed a lot of rust and his strikeout to walk ratio was an awful 1.36. He also threw 26 wild pitches and had an ERA above 5.00.

Brackman showed promise the following year at Tampa ('A+') and Trenton ('AA'), excelling after his promotion to the Eastern League's Thunder. Between the two levels he struck out 126 in 146.2 innings and walked 39 with a 3.90 ERA.

But this past season Brackman took a step backwards at Triple-A Scranton. He had a career low in strikeouts per nine innings and set a career high in walks per nine frames, with both figures at 7.0. A 1.635 WHIP, 19 wild pitches, a 6.00 ERA, and just 13 starts in his 33 appearances all added up to his subtraction from the Yankees 40-man roster.

While he is not yet in the category of a Brien Taylor, Brackman's window of opportunity to mak e the Majors is closing fast.

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