Yankees' Brackman Improves After Poor Pro Debut





NEW YORK—Because of the Yankees' pitching depth, righthander Andrew Brackman might be the most overlooked 6-foot-10 power pitcher in the game.

Lefthander Manny Banuelos and righthander Dellin Betances are the crown jewels, while righties Ivan Nova, Hector Noesi and Adam Warren are closer to the big leagues.

But none progressed as far as Brackman did in 2010. Following a miserable 2009 when his confidence sagged and his control vanished, the '07 first-round pick spent most of last season with Double-A Trenton. On the year, he struck out three times (126) as many batters as he walked (39) in 141 innings.

"He had a good year," farm director Mark Newman said of the 25-year-old Brackman, who also played basketball at North Carolina State. "When he went (from high Class A Tampa) to Double-A, his strikeouts went up and his hits per inning went down. He has gotten better the farther away he gets from the injury he had."

New York knew Brackman needed Tommy John surgery when it drafted him 30th overall. He had the procedure in late August 2007 and missed the entire '08 season. During his first pro action in '09, Brackman fizzled at 2-10, 5.91 for low Class A Charleston, showing both poor control (6.4 walks per nine innings, 26 wild pitches) and poor command (8.9 hits per nine).

Asked if the miserable 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."

Now, Brackman is headed to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with the ability to start or relieve thanks to a 93-95 mph heater and above-average curveball.

"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."

YANKEE DOODLES

• Catching prospects Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez arrived at the Yankees' minor league complex in mid-January and started a pre-spring training workout program.

• The Yankees signed power-armed righthanded reliever Warner Madrigal to a minor league deal. The 27-year-old converted outfielder pitched in the Rangers system last year, notching 42 strikeouts and 14 walks in 51 innings, mostly in Triple-A.