Andrew Brackman: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been for the NY Yankees Prospect
Listed as the 78th-best prospect in all of baseball entering the 2011 season by Baseball America, Andrew Brackman has gone from a highly-touted prospect to an afterthought in the span of a few months.
One of the three "Killer B's" in the Yankees farm system—along with Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances—Brackman was the second of the trio to join the organization but the first many expected to see make a meaningful contribution to the major league roster.
But sometimes, things don't quite work out as we think they should.
Let's take a ride with Andrew Brackman as he makes his way from a college campus to the Bronx.
2004: The Beginning
A two-sport star in baseball and basketball at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, the 6'11" Andrew Brackman decided to attend North Carolina State after going undrafted out of high school, partly due to his two-sport prowess and also because he had some tendinitis in his elbow throughout high school.
Brackman would spend his first two years at NC State playing both sports and excelling on both the court and the diamond. His freshman season saw him go 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA for the baseball team, and average 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds a game for the basketball team.
Shortly after the Wolfpack were eliminated by Texas in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Brackman decided to focus solely on baseball, leaving the basketball team in a bit of a bind.
Then the injury bug would strike again.
Brackman would suffer a stress fracture his hip during his sophomore season, limiting him to seven innings of work, over which he would go 1-4 with an ERA over six.
He would rebound in his final season with NC State, going 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA and 74 strikeouts over 78 innings. He did not pitch after May 31 due to another bout with elbow tendinitis and the death of an ex-girlfriend in a car crash.
While his stats weren't overly impressive, his talent was undeniable.
2007: From College to the Pros
With the talent befitting the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, Andrew Brackman had two things going against him.
First, he hired super-agent Scott Boras to represent him, and, per usual, Boras wasted no time in letting people know that Brackman was worthy of a large contract and signing bonus.
Secondly, his injury history scared some teams off, and it was a foregone conclusion that he was going to require Tommy John surgery to repair the recurring problems with his elbow.
So he fell. And fell. All the way to the 30th pick in the first round, where Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees sat waiting.
Without hesitation, they selected and later signed the talented right-hander to a four year, $4.55 million contract, one that included a $3.35 million signing bonus and a requirement that he be added to the 40-man roster.
But it would take some time before Brackman would actually take the mound as a Yankees prospect.
2007 and 2008: The Long Road Back
Andrew Brackman would visit the illustrious Dr. James Andrews and undergo Tommy John surgery in August of 2007.
He would spent the better part of the next year rehabbing to get back on the mound.
2009: His Debut
Andrew Brackman would finally take the mound as a professional baseball player in 2009 for the Single-A Charleston Riverdogs.
He would struggle mightily, going 2-12 with a 5.91 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over 106.2 innings pitched.
Of course, struggles were to be expected for a number of reasons. He was recovering from Tommy John surgery, had not been in an actual game in nearly two years, and was still adjusting to life as a pro.
Even with his struggles, entering the 2010 season, Baseball America ranked Brackman as the Yankees 10th-best prospect overall and the Yankees prospect with the best fastball.
2010: Getting Back on Track
Now 24 years old, Andrew Brackman split time between Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2010, showing great improvement from his 2009 campaign upon fully recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Combined, he went 10-11 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over 140.2 innings pitched. Brackman would strike out 126 while walking only 39.
He seemed to get stronger as the season went on, putting up a 3.01 ERA with Trenton.
2011: Father Knows Best
Everyone had big hopes for the big pitcher this season, many expecting him to be one of the first to be promoted when the Yankees needed an arm from the minors.
Instead, Brackman imploded.
In 33 games this season, 13 as a starter, he has pitched like AJ Burnett: 3-6, 6.00 ERA, 1.64 WHIP over 96 innings.
It gets worse.
During a game in Durham, NC, Brackman was warming up in the bullpen.
He had absolutely lost the ability to control the ball, and the umpires had to stop the game when he threw three fastballs straight over the bullpen catcher's head and onto the playing field.
He contemplated walking away, until his father yelled at him and told him to get on the team bus.
If that wasn't enough, in his last start on July 29 against the New York Mets Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, Brackman had a no-hitter through 3.1 innings—but had walked nine batters. After that, he watched tape from his days in college and made some adjustments.
Since then, Brackman has gotten back on track. Since the beginning of August, Brackman has gone 1-0 with a 1.34 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, six walks and 17 strikeouts over 20.1 innings.
2011: Good Thing He Had Cell Service
On Tuesday, Brackman finally got the call he has patiently waited for—he was headed to the Bronx.
He had finally made it.
So far, Brackman has done nothing other then sit in the bullpen, but sooner or later this imposing physical specimen is going to take the mound for the Yankees.
How he'll fare is anyone's guess, but Brackman has won part of the battle by making it to the majors at all.
Now he has to show that he deserves to stay.