MLB Free Agents 2012: Andrew Brackman To Sign with Cincinnati Reds

Illya Harrell@illya_1971Analyst IIDecember 13, 2011

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Andrew Brackman #64 of the New York Yankees poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Photo Day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 25, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Pitcher Andrew Brackman, a 2007 No. 1 draft pick by the New York Yankees, is headed to the Cincinnati Reds. The 2011 edition of Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked him as the No. 5 prospect in the Yankees minor league system.

For the casual baseball fan, today marks only 11 more shopping days until Christmas. For fanatics, this is a holiday in itself—the first day teams can offer contracts to non-tendered free agents. The Yankees declined an arbitration offer to Brackman and the Reds pounced without having to give a compensation pick in next year's draft.

The 6'10" right-hander is a Cincinnati native as well as a two-sport (basketball) standout at North Carolina State.

The Yankees once thought so highly of Brackman that he inked a mind-blowing four-year $4.55 million major league contract along with a $3.35 million signing bonus. The Yanks declined a club-option fifth year which would have put the total dollar amount at around $13 million.

Now the Reds have swept in and nabbed him for major league minimum wage plus a slew of incentives.

So far his career in the bigs has consisted of three New York September 2011 relief appearances totaling 2.1 innings pitched, one hit and zero runs. He did walk one batter in each of those three outings. Looking at his minor league stats, control seems to be an issue. Last season, pitching for the Yankees' AAA affiliate Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Brackman issued a dismal 75 walks in 96 innings.

Calling control an issue may not be accurate—more like a horrific problem that must be sorted before he toes a major league rubber.

His first year in the minors, Brackman walked 76 in 106.2 innings pitching in Low-A ball. His second year, spent splitting time between High-A and AA, he somehow improved to a very respectable 39 free passes in 140.2 innings pitched.

There is no denying the 26-year-old's stuff. His can run a fastball between 92 and 95 mph. Baseball America says, "His best pitch is a well above-average curveball with which he can vary the size, shape, and velocity (72-81 mph)." He has tried a slider and a change. Given his lackluster control, it's probably safe to say that his secondary pitches are not at all effective.

But hey, you don't need more than two pitches coming out of the pen. And that is one hole that the Reds desperately need to fill.

A little humbling after the Yankees' massive contract, and a change of scenery—especially returning to his hometown—may be just what Brackman needs to find success at the major league level.