Scouting Report: LHP, Gavin Brooks

Brooks has two breaking pitches

The New York Yankees selected left-hander Gavin Brooks in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of UCLA. Considered one of the better pitching prospects out of high school, he put up okay numbers in college but broke out in a big way in his professional debut season in Staten Island last year.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Gavin Brooks
Position: Pitcher
DOB: October 27, 1987
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"I thought it went real well," Brooks said of his debut season. "It was a great experience. We ended up winning our league so overall I thought it went perfect."

He put up okay numbers in his three years at UCLA with his freshman year [6-7, 4.47 ERA] arguably being his best season, but they all paled in comparison to the numbers he put up in Staten Island [5-1, 3 saves, 0.62 ERA] and yet it didn't surprise him.

"I know what I'm capable of," he said. "I've always had high standards for myself and high goals for myself. I wasn't all satisfied with the season though.

"It did go well but my walks were a little high and I was a little erratic at times. I need to work on being more consistent and lowering those walks down a little bit."

Walking five batters per nine innings marred what was otherwise a stellar beginning to his career, but while his success didn't surprise him, there was at least one reason for the quick statistical turnaround.

"I think learning from [college] and being able to throw the pitches that I want when I want to, I think that was the main thing," he opined. "In college I didn't really have a chance to shake pitches off at all, so pretty much whatever pitch was called from the dugout was the pitch that I was going to throw.

"I think being able to throw a pitch I want in a count that I want made me a little more comfortable instead of being committed to some pitch being called for me. I think that was the major difference."

A bit more freedom and perhaps having the proverbial shackles taken off also allowed him to experiment a bit more and that meant finally incorporating a harder breaking ball into his repertoire.

Known for having a slower spike curveball in college, Brooks had developed a harder breaking pitch. And depending on who you ask, it's either a different curveball, a slider, or a slurve.

"It was something that I experimented with before my junior year of college," Brooks recounted. "Having a coach call pitches, he never got into calling the two breaking pitches.

"He'd always call just the one and I threw the one that I had been throwing my entire college career, the slower breaking ball. I never had a chance to throw [the harder breaking ball] in college."

The harder breaking pitch, which is about five miles per hour harder than his slower traditional curveball, gave him an effective weapon against right-handed batters in Staten Island last season.

"I worked on it towards the end of the year and once the [Staten Island] season started before I signed," he continued. "I played catch with it, got a good feel for it, and started using it more and more as the season progressed.

"The more I threw it the better it felt and the better it felt the more break it got. That basically took the place of my slower breaking ball."

Throw in the fact he is also now working on adding a sinking two-seamer and a changeup, and with the potential of once again possibly throwing harder someday, Brooks gives the Yankees a left-hander with some upside.

"I know I still have that arm strength still in me," said Brooks, who threw 92-95 mph for a spell in his freshman year of college. "It's just a matter of getting my mechanics down, keeping them sound, and strengthening my arm with long-toss. It's definitely still there."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2009

Staten Island

5-1

3

43.1

27

24

48

0.62



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Right now Brooks throws primarily a four-seam fastball that sits mostly in the 89-91 mph range. He hit a few 93s on the gun in Staten Island, however, and even topped out at 94 mph, so there is some power in his arm. He started developing a two-seamer at Instructs and it's meant to help him throw some ground balls for when he gets behind in the count. He gets good sinking action on it but the pitch is so new that he has some work to do to get better command of it.

Other Pitches. As noted, the biggest reason for Brooks' success in Staten Island is his harder breaking pitch that Brooks calls a slider. It isn't a true curveball because it does have some lateral bite to it and it's different from a true slider because it does break down. It sits 78-79 mph and acts more like a 'slurve'. It is his best strikeout pitch. He also throws a slower, truer spike curveball that sits around 73-75 mph. It too can be a strikeout pitch but it is more of a get-me-over curveball at this point. The Yankees also have him working on a changeup too but that pitch is still in its infancy stage.

Pitching. Brooks is mostly a fastball-breaking ball pitcher who can be erratic with his command [he walked almost seven batters per nine innings in his sophomore year of college]. He can walk guys in hurry when he gets down early in the counts, but it should be noted that once his harder breaking pitch became more reliable, his walk ratio went down considerably. The plan of adding a two-seamer and a changeup is designed to give him two contact pitches that he can go to when he gets behind the count to help induce some harmless contact. He can be a devastating pitcher though when he gets ahead in the count, thanks to his harder breaking ball.

Projection. It's too early in his development to get an accurate read on his future projection. He seems destined to remain in the bullpen and his breaking pitch arsenal makes him effective against both right-handed and left-handed batters [righties actually hit worse against him in Staten Island]. His future impact on a bullpen will be mostly predicated on his ability to consistently get ahead in the count. It also still remains to be seen if hitters will lay off of his harder breaking pitch at the higher levels and there is still the question of how much his new contact pitches can develop. He has some potential as a left-handed setup man, but there is a long way to go towards doing that.

ETA. N/A. Brooks will most likely put his new pitches to the test in the South Atlantic League in 2010.

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