Brackman Remains On Shelf

Andrew Brackman’s May hasn’t gone as anyone might have hoped. The 6-foot-10 North Carolina State righthander did not pitch in any of the Wolfpack’s three games in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, meaning he will have made only one appearance, totaling four innings, during the entire month.

Issues both on and off the field have led to Brackman’s mysterious May. The team has said his arm is simply tired after he had pitched 78 innings this season, compared to 71 in his previous two college seasons combined. On top of that, he has had to deal with the death of his former girlfriend in the last week.

So while the lack of work may be understandable, it doesn’t make the task of figuring out where to draft Brackman any easier.

Brackman’s last win came on April 7 against Florida State. His last strong performance came April 28 against North Carolina. Brackman did not get a decision, but he pitched seven innings, striking out seven, walking four and allowing three hits.

The next weekend, Brackman was skipped in the weekend rotation when the Wolfpack had a non-conference series against Campbell. It was a good idea, and most of the team’s starters rested during the two-game set, so it was considered no big deal.

The next weekend was more worrisome, however. Brackman pitched on May 12 at Virginia, topped out at 87 mph and allowed three runs on five hits and five walks, with three strikeouts in four innings of work. N.C. State came back to win that game and the series.

With an NCAA regional bid probably on the line last weekend, N.C. State faced Clemson in its final home series, and the Wolfpack chose to skip Brackman in the rotation. The team said Brackman was going through a dead arm period as many pitchers do, and it made sense considering his workload this season compared with the rest of his career. It still wasn’t a good sign for his draft stock, though.

At the same time, Brackman has had to deal with off-field tragedy. His former girlfriend, 24-year-old Emily May, was killed in a car wreck in Fayetteville, N.C., early on May 18. She was the passenger in a 1999 Mustang that crashed into a pole on a traffic island. Brackman stayed behind to attend her funeral in Greensboro, N.C., on Wednesday, while the team went to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.

Brackman was still scheduled to pitch on Saturday against Georgia Tech in the third game of the round-robin tournament, but it didn’t happen. Facing a possible 0-3 tournament record, the Pack still decided it had a better chance with lefty Jimmy Gilheeny on the mound. N.C. State won the game 8-7 and should make regionals with a record of 37-21.

There are even more factors that make drafting Brackman a complex decision. Brackman is advised by the Scott Boras Corp., and because of his basketball past, the team that signs him can spread his bonus out over five years. With a strong finish, Brackman could have sought a package in the $10 million range, using 2006 Cubs draftee Jeff Samardzija’s contract as a measuring stick. He could have been one of Boras’ “out of the box” players, someone like Mark Teixeira or Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver, to use past examples.

But now, Brackman probably can’t make that argument. Georgia Tech’s Matt Wieters, New Jersey prep righthander Rick Porcello, Fort Worth Cats righty Max Scherzer–there are several Boras clients who could legitimately ask for “out of the box” signing bonuses this June. Brackman may no longer be one of them.