We all know the Yankees are in desperate need of a 5th starter. Make that 4th starter. Actually, nobody likes AJ Burnett as their #3 …well, you get the point. Some have suggested Andrew Brackman as a possible solution. Brian Cashman has mentioned him as one of the names who will be competing for the 4th/5th starter spot this spring. In a recent post, Mark Smith of IATMS formed a plan where Andrew starts until late in the season and moves to the bullpen later in the year to limit his innings. Sounds good in theory, he has more upside than Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre or Bartolo Colon. Among the group of AAA contenders for a rotation slot of Ivan Nova, David Plelps and Hector Noesi, I think its safe to say Brackman’s ceiling is the highest (and that’s not just because he’s 6’10”). He’s already on the 40 man roster, even had a brief MLB call up late last year, although he didn’t see any game action. Prospect watchers have been saying good things about Andrew. Frank Piliere of MLB Fanhouse was drooling over him in a midseason scouting report last August. In the must read NoMaas interview with BAs John Manuel, he praises Brackman for having “More feel for the breaking ball than anyone in the Yankees system” and “If he decides to commit to a slider, he could have a hellacious pitch” after flashing some 07 Joba-esque 90 MPH sliders in the Eastern League last year.
But he’s not ready yet. Not according to Yankee farm director Mark Newman. Baseball America’s George King recently sat down with him and discussed Brackman. Two comments really jumped out at me:
“His secondary stuff is good and he is throwing strikes,” Newman said. “We feel confident if he pitches out of the pen. If the changeup develops the way it has been going, we feel he can pitch in the rotation.”
So the Yanks aren’t even sure he’s going to be a starter yet at the big league level, much less be ready for a call up to the show. He’s missing plenty of bats (9.1 career SO/9) so needing the changeup and categorizing him as a MLB ready reliever may indicate the Yanks feel he needs a weapon against MLB lefty batters. He follows:
Asked if the miserable (09) season shook the club’s confidence in Brackman, Newman said it didn’t, but that wasn’t the case for the pitcher.
“He wondered about it,” Newman said. “We tried to reassure him that we understood what he had been through.”
His confidence was down after struggling to return after TJ surgery. He made strides last year, but has yet to really dominate the minors the way his size and stuff would suggest he can. Clearly, he’s not a finished product, and spring training ‘competition’ notwithstanding I don’t see the Yanks breaking camp with him on the 25 man roster. The minors are there for development, and rushing someone who’s not ready will only hurt Brackman and the Yanks long term. If Brackman blows through AAA this year, and shows he’s made the progress the Yanks are looking for, maybe a June call up will be in order. But that needs to happen first before we see the big righty in pinstripes.