Yankees' Brackman Tames Trenton In Breakout Year





NEW YORK—Mark Newman has been with the Yankees for 22 years and has witnessed the ups and downs of many pitchers moving through the system.

However, what he saw with 24-year-old righthander Andrew Brackman this season was new for the veteran farm director.

"I had never seen a guy make that type of improvement in a calendar year," Newman said of Brackman, a first-round pick in 2007 from North Carolina State.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Brackman needed to show this season that the tools that made him a premium draft pick were turning into results after a miserable 2009. Making his pro debut a year ago, he went 2-12, 5.91 in 29 appearances for low Class A Charleston.

Worse, he issued 76 walks in 107 innings—though he did strike out 103 and allow just 106 hits.

Brackman's pitching development had been held back by a number of factors: he concentrated on basketball in college; he had Tommy John surgery shortly after signing in 2007; and too many moving parts in a big body affected his command.

He began showing signs of life this season with high Class A Tampa in the first half, going 5-4, 5.10 with 56 whiffs in 60 innings. But he really began turning things around upon a promotion to Double-A Trenton.

"Look at his walk ratio last year when it was 6.5 per nine innings," Newman said. "He goes to the Florida State League and it goes to 1.35 per nine, and then at Trenton it was 3.35."

And Brackman did it while adding velocity. "In his last game he topped out at 98 (mph)," Newman said.

On the year Brackman went 10-11, 3.90 with a 126 strikeouts and 39 walks over 141 innings. He allowed just eight home runs in 26 starts. In other words, Brackman made it easy for the Yankees to pick up a $1 million option on him for next season.

Brackman originally signed a four-year, big league deal worth $4.55 million, but the deal can be worth $13 million if New York exercises all its options through 2013.

"That's why our scouts took him so high," Newman said. "Because of the upside."

YANKEE DOODLES

• The Yankees invited three of their top prospects—Brackman, catcher Jesus Montero and righthander Dellin Betances—to join the big club in September, but only as spectators. Brackman already was a member of the 40-man roster, while New York will face (easy) decisions on the other two this winter.

• Tampa won its second straight Florida State League title, while Trenton lost to Altoona in the Eastern League finals. Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre dropped its first-round series to Columbus, the eventual International League champion.