From Ben Shpigel:
They still see him as a top-of-the-rotation force but, because of his unusual past, also as someone who must be evaluated differently from his peers.
A basketball career at North Carolina State and reconstructive elbow surgery, nine days after the Yankees signed him as a first-round pick in August 2007, curbed Brackman’s innings count in college and winter ball to 184 1/3 before he made his debut last season for Charleston.
“We weren’t surprised that he had these growing pains,” said Mark Newman, the Yankees’ senior vice president for baseball operations. “We knew that going in. Where we draft, we don’t get opportunities for guys like Andrew, who’s a heck of an athlete and has an incredible arm. That’s what’s so attractive about him.”
I think it is a bit early for Yankee fans to be throwing the “bust” word around when talking about Brackman. Make no mistake, he had an atrocious season, both in terms of process and in regard to his results. 2-12 with a 5.91 ERA cannot be rationalized away, and Brackman’s prospect status certainly took a major hit. His only success came out of the bullpen in the final month of the season, but the Yankees did not draft Brackman in the first round to be an ace reliever. They picked him to be an ace, and right now that is looking fairly unlikely.
All that said, I believe that bolded sentence is the most important of the entire piece, and one that Yankees fans should pay heed to when thinking about Brackman. Brackman had very little college or pro experience coming into this past season, and was coming off major reconstructive surgery. Last season was more about staying healthy and simply pitching than numbers and results. Now, the Yankees certainly would have preferred if his mechanics would not have gotten so far out of whack so as to require that they be entirely rebuilt, but that sort of setback is not entirely unpredictable for a 6 foot 10 inch pitcher returning from major injury. He is simply not your typical prospect that can be evaluated based upon the same time frames as other pitchers.
2010 is an important season for Andrew Brackman. He has had enough distance from his surgery, has had his delivery reinvented by Nardi Contreras, and will be given every opportunity to succeed by the Yankees. He is not yet a bust, and there is still hope. But it is time for Brackman to turn his potential into results.
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