Yanks take towering righty Brackman
Six-foot-10 hurler with major upside heads promising class
NEW YORK -- The Yankees went big with their first selection of Thursday's First-Year Player Draft, choosing North Carolina State junior right-hander Andrew Brackman with the 30th overall pick.
A 6-foot-10, 230-pound hurler, Brackman had been projected by some to be a possibility for the first five or 10 picks of the Draft, but fell when his season was hindered by inflammation in his right elbow.
"I think I have it better than all the other first-rounders because I was chosen by the Yankees -- the greatest baseball powerhouse," Brackman said. "This was a dream come true. This is more than anyone could ask for."
The 21-year-old Brackman was 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA in his junior season for the Wolfpack. He allowed 78 hits in 78 innings, striking out 74 and walking 37 while holding opponents to a .264 batting average.
"He had a whole season under his belt this year, and it was good and bad," said N.C. State head baseball coach Elliott Avent. "It was good from the standpoint that he dealt with a whole season of baseball, and that's what Major League Baseball wanted to see.
"I think it kind of wore him down a little bit, and who knows? He's probably going to have to rehab for a while, but they've got a guy who's hopefully going to be in the Major Leagues for a long time with the Yankees."
Clocked between 92-97 mph with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, Brackman also features a low-80s knuckle-curveball and a mid-80s changeup.
He had not pitched since May 12 at Virginia and was idle for the ACC Tournament and NC State's NCAA regional appearance at Columbia, S.C., but an MRI exam performed by the university reportedly showed no structural damage.
"You've got an above-95-mph fastball that's coming at you from not as far away as a 6-foot-3 guy," Avent said. "He needs to work on his off-speed pitches and his delivery, but once he gets healthy and is in the Yankees organization for a couple of years, I think you've got a chance to see an All-Star for years to come."
Represented by the Scott Boras agency, Brackman said he does not anticipate negotiations to be drawn out.
"I think the process will go smoothly," Brackman said. "It takes time to work some things out, but I think it'll go smoothly and I'm looking forward to being on the field as soon as possible."
Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' director of amateur scouting, said that Brackman seemed excited by his destination in a telephone conversation following the announcement.
"When you pick at 30, the other end of the phone doesn't always seem excited, but this one seems to be that way," Oppenheimer said. "We'll just do the best we can to try to put him in pinstripes."
|30||Brackman, Andrew||North Carolina St U||RHP|
|94||Romine, Austin||El Toro HS||C|
|124||Pope, Ryan||Savannah Col of Art & Design||RHP|
|154||Suttle, Bradley||U Texas Austin||3B|
|184||Olbrychowski, Adam||Pepperdine U||RHP|
Brackman's past achievements as a basketball power forward during his freshman and sophomore years at N.C. State helped his appeal and the Yankees' belief that he will be prepared to handle New York, Oppenheimer said.
"This guy is a guy who was able to play power forward in one of the toughest conferences in basketball and spent some time on Team USA," Oppenheimer said. "I think his chances are as good as anybody else we've selected, or we wouldn't have taken him."
Brackman made three relief appearances as a freshman and posted a 1.29 ERA, while he was 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA as a starter. Injury problems hindered the Moeller (Ohio) High School product's sophomore campaign, as he pitched in only seven games due to a stress fracture in his left hip and finished 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA.
His three-year totals at N.C. State show an 11-7 record with a 3.80 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 149 1/3 innings. Brackman said he learned of the Yankees' interest before the Draft and was rooting to be sized for pinstripes on Thursday.
"Growing up I've always had Yankees hats, Yankees stuff," Brackman said. "Some people aren't fans of the Yankees and ask why. Why not? Why not wear the hat? They're the best team in baseball. How can you root against them?"
Brackman's selection continued a trend for the Yankees, who selected right-handed pitchers in the first three picks of last year's Draft, taking Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and Zack McAllister.
Brackman said he spent Draft day fishing with his father, Mark, on the Ohio River.
"We packed all our fishing gear up and we left," Brackman said. "We kept checking the phone and the phone said that I got picked by the Yankees. We pulled into a gas station and we jumped out of the car. It was just, you know, I can't really describe how I felt. It was a relief."
"I'm sure he's on top of the world," said Avent, who exchanged text messages with the hurler. "He said he just got home -- he went fishing. He said he wasn't catching anything, so he went home."
The 30th selection is the latest the Yankees have ever picked in the first round of a Draft. In the second round, New York selected catcher Austin Romine, the son of former Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine, from El Toro (Calif.) High School with the 94th pick overall.
"We've scouted him pretty good," Oppenheimer said. "This is a kid who could really, really throw. He can catch, he's got a big bat, and the fact that he came from some Major League bloodlines always helps. We're excited."
|"I think I have it better than all the other first-rounders because I was chosen by the Yankees -- the greatest baseball powerhouse. This was a dream come true. This is more than anyone could ask for."|
|-- First-round pick Andrew Brackman|
New York went with another pitcher in the third round, selecting junior right-hander Ryan Pope from the Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design. The 6-foot-3 Pope was named the Player of the Year in both the Florida Sun Conference and NAIA Region XIV in 2007, and threw a no-hitter to open the season against Tennessee Temple University.
"He's a guy who could advance pretty quick," Oppenheimer said. "He's got a good delivery, his arm is fast and he throws strikes. He comes from a smaller conference, but we really did a lot of work on this guy. We think he's got a chance to be more of a complete pitcher with solid stuff."
In the fourth round, the Yankees selected sophomore third baseman Bradley Suttle from the University of Texas at Austin. A switch-hitter, Suttle's body type has been compared to that of Chicago White Sox third baseman Joe Crede.
"He's proven he can hit," Oppenheimer said. "We're excited about the opportunity to try and sign Brad Suttle. That's a good-looking bat. It's not easy to hit home runs at the University of Texas."
The Yankees selected junior right-hander Adam Olbrychowski from Pepperdine University in the fifth round.
"We're taking a flyer on a guy who we've scouted numerous times," Oppenheimer said. "He's a big-arm guy, 92- to 96-mph fastball guy. We've seen good stuff out of this guy. It's just a matter of getting him into our system with our coaches and getting him consistent."
The 50-round First-Year Player Draft concludes Friday from the Wide World of Sports complex's Milk House at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.