Brackman Banking On Bounceback Season

Brackman makes his first start on Friday

After returning from Tommy John surgery in late 2008, the 6' 11" right-handed Andrew Brackman struggled mightily with the Charleston RiverDogs last season. Brackman is confident that this season, now two years removed from having surgery, he will be able to put together the season that the Yankees have been hoping for.

Andrew Brackman posted an ugly 2-12 record with a 5.91 ERA last season. His 103 strikeouts in 106 plus innings were somewhat overshadowed by his propensity to give up the free pass, allowing 76 walks for a 1.706 WHIP. However, having made significant strides this off season and throughout spring training, Brackman feels he is primed for a big season to hush the critics.

"Last year was an awful year," he said. "I didn't have a feel for anything, really. I didn't know where the ball was going.

"This year, it's day and night. So, from all of that, I am ready to get this season started and to take the ball for my start."

Despite having his struggles in Low-A Charleston, he has been promoted to High-A Tampa and feels ready to make all of the necessary adjustments.

"Charleston was a good place, you know, but here, it's just a level up. It feels a lot more professional, there's a bit more responsibility for the players. It's up to you to get your work in."

There will be familiar faces in Tampa, too, as the former Charleston skipper Torre Tyson has also been promoted to the Tampa Yankees with the departure of the longtime Tampa manager Luis Sojo.

"Tyse was in Charleston, so I will know what to do and what not to do here. And, that will definitely be helpful to have him here with me for another season."

Brackman was able to take his struggles in 2009 and, with the help of the pitching instructors, improve on several key areas which should enable him to improve his all-around ability.

Primarily, he was focused on refining his mechanics and ensuring that he kept his release point consistent. He went into spring training hoping to get off to a fast start in 2010.

"Spring training was really good. I came in last year and wasn't expecting too much but I ended up having just an awful season. But, I took my workouts differently this spring training. I just came in, not with a whole bunch of goals or anything like that, and just had fun with it.

"I wanted to have fun and play baseball and I just rolled right through spring training, which went really quick. Now, I am just ready to get this season started here [Friday]."

Known mostly for being a hard-thrower due to his blistering mid-nineties fastball, Brackman has been working on expanding his repertoire of pitches to help him gain an edge against the High-A hitters. Possessing both a fastball and a curveball, he has been tinkering with his changeup.

"Well, I needed to work on a changeup. Before, I really only had two pitches, being my fastball and the curveball. I knew I needed to throw the changeup for strikes, which really happened a lot quicker for me than I thought it would. So, I feel pretty good about that pitch now.

"Actually, the pitching coaches decided to throw a new pitch in there too, a slider. It's coming along really, really well. I like it a lot, it's a bit harder than the fastball. It's just a new pitch, a new toy to play with."

As for his specific goals on the season, he wasn't quite as set on assigning goals as he has been in the past.

"I think I set too many goals for myself last season. When you can't reach one of those goals, it's just a domino effect which impacts all of the other ones. So, now, instead, I'm just going to going to go out there and play like it's the backyard again."

He will fill out a rotation which holds immense potential headed forward. With the likes of Manny Banuelos, Jairo Heredia, Hector Noesi, and Dellin Betances all set to pitch at some point for the club during the season, Brackman is excited to be a part of such an impressive group of prospects.

"On paper, our starting five look really, really good. Hopefully we can put some runs up on the board and win some games here this season.

"Last year's Tampa Yankees club did really well. I'm hoping we can match that."

If Brackman can bounce back from his dismal 2009 season and pitch like the scouts believe he can, the 2010 Tampa Yankees have a good chance to repeat as Florida State League Champions.

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