Let’s Chat With Andrew Brackman, Shall We?

When the Thunder finally get to Akron on Monday — night game then a bus trip to Ohio, really? — Andrew Brackman is scheduled to take the ball for Trenton.  After being drafted in the first round in 2007, it’ll be just his third Double-A appearance. 

Brackman, just 24 years old, had been slowed by Tommy John surgery, an appendectomy and inconsistent pitching in Low-A Charleston last season.

Recently, the six foot, ten inch tall (I asked him…he’s listed at both 6′ 10″ and 6′ 11″) righty was kind enough to give me about ten minutes of his time outside of the Thunder clubhouse.  Here’s how the conversation went…

Mike Ashmore: The Yankees took you in the first round with the 30th pick of the 2007 draft.  Can you take me back to that day?  What was that like for you…

Andrew Brackman: “Well, it was a mixed emotion day.  I didn’t get drafted out of high school, and I was really down after that.  Being a senior in high school and not getting drafted, that’s everything to you.  But, three years later, it came around and expectations were high.  But there was something wrong with my arm, and all the teams knew it.  I kind of got pushed back a little bit.  But I’m thankful that the Yankees gave me a shot.  It was just a weight lifted off of my shoulders, just because I knew somebody was going to give me a shot.  I was ecstatic to know it was the Yankees.  I think every player in that draft would have loved to have been drafted by the Yankees.  It was a good day and a bad day, just because I knew what was in store for me: surgery.  Everything else was good.”

Ashmore: Contract-wise, draft status-wise; considering where you were picked, considering how much you got…did you put pressure on yourself, was there pressure put on you to essentially live up to that?

Brackman: “Nobody put any pressure on me.  No one said that I had to hurry and make it to the big leagues.  No pressure at all.  But I feel like I kind of put it on myself.  They put an investment in me, and I wanted to give them in return what I can do.  I feel like last year, it was just a little bit frustrating, and I just sped up too quick.  I took the season way too fast, and it went by in an instant.  I didn’t get to step back and realize what I was doing.  This year, I’m trying to make a 180 on it.”

Ashmore: Having to have the Tommy John surgery like you did…did you always knew you were going to have that done?  Did you always know the arm issues were that bad?

Brackman: “Yeah.  We kind of figured that I was going to have to have it leading up to the draft and a couple of weeks after.  As soon as we figured it was needed, it was done.  I stayed that whole year in Tampa and rehabbed.  I know I did my rehab right, so I know my arm should be good.  It just kind of took a little bit longer for me, I guess.”

Ashmore: We talked about the draft pick and the contract and all of that…and because of that, before you even threw a single professional pitch, you had people saying you’re a bust, you’re this, you’re that.  Were you aware of that?  Did that bother you at all?

Brackman: “No, you can’t really listen to other people and what they think.  I try not to do that, I try not to read into what other people think.  It’s just, as long as I come to the field every day and get my work done, nobody can take that away from me.”

Ashmore: You look at your numbers last year in Charleston, and they probably weren’t what you would have liked.  But were there any positives you were able to take away from 2009?

Brackman: “Yeah.  I got through a full professional season, and I knew what to expect coming into this year.  I know how to go about my work this year better than I did last year.  It definitely put some experience under my belt, and it’s definitely helped me out this year a lot.”

Ashmore: So what adjustments — whether it be mechanics or mentality — did you have to make to throw more strikes this year?

Brackman: “You know, I have no clue.  I’ve always been able to throw strikes, I never had that problem like I did last year.  I feel like it was just one day, I came up and just started throwing strikes.  It could be all the work that I put in and Nardi (Contreras) put in and all the pitching coaches, just repetition each day, coming out and it finally clicked.  I’ve just got to keep staying on that path.”

Ashmore: Did you feel like you were any different from a mechanical standpoint after the surgery?

Brackman: “Yeah, definitely.  I never used to go over my head, and now I’ve been going over my head in my windup.  There’s definitely been some different mechanics between college and now.”

Ashmore: I’ve been reading a lot that you lost some weight as well.  How has that benefitted your game?

Brackman: “I’m kind of back down to my basketball playing weight.  I don’t know, I just feel like I’m more mobile, more agile, and I feel like I can move a little better, which helps me in my windup and going out there and throwing.”

Ashmore: It seems like the last few starts you had in Tampa before you came here, you really started to get on a roll.  Can you pinpoint a time where things started to click for you down there?

Brackman: “At the beginning of the season, I had tendonitis in my hand.  Once I got over that, I had a good spring, and I didn’t really feel anything in my hand.  Once that tendonitis went away, it just kind of all came back and started clicking.”

Ashmore: I know basketball was a big part of your life as well, and I’m curious to see how much that still weighs on your mind…

Brackman: “It really doesn’t weight on my mind anymore.  I want to be a pitcher.  I think I made that decision once I gave up basketball, and I’ve been working every day for the past two years to be that pitcher.  That’s what I want to be.  My end goal is to be in New York.  Once you get there, you’ve got to stay there.  Just every day, come in and do your work.”

Ashmore: How good do you think you could have been as a basketball player?

Brackman: “I could have played, I could have competed…”

Ashmore: In the NBA?

Brackman: “I don’t know, maybe overseas, definitely.  I don’t know about the NBA.  But I’ve been told that I could have had a shot in the NBA.”

Ashmore: You only made that one start at Waterfront Park, and I’m sure a lot of people still are very curious about what kind of pitcher you are…can you tell me about what you throw and what kind of mentality you have when you’re out there?

Brackman: “Fastball, curveball, changeup and a slider.  I’m really trying to develop the changeup so I can have that fourth pitch.  I’m trying to get my velocity, I haven’t really been able to throw as hard since Tommy John.  But it’s not about that, it’s more about location, and I need to get my fastball location a little bit better and then I’ll be able to move some things around and throw my other offspeed pitches.”

Ashmore: When you first got drafted…not to make it a negative, but did you think it would take you this long to get up here?

Brackman: “No.  You know, when I got drafted, I thought surgery would go smooth and I thought everything would come back feeling normal like it did in college.  I had a major surgery on my elbow, and it takes different people longer people to come back from different injuries.  It just took me a lot longer than I expected.  But I can’t really do anything about that.  If you use your arm every day and that’s what hurts, you can’t really do anything about it.”

Ashmore: It seems like a lot of the goal from last year was to just get through your first pro season, which you did.  So what’s the goal for this year?

Brackman: “I really haven’t put any goals on this season, I’ve just wanted to go out and compete.  Last year, I didn’t get to compete, I was competing against myself, trying to throw strikes.  I feel like this year, I can think more and focus more on hitters, instead of focusing on the ball going to the backstop.”

Ashmore: Do you think at any point, maybe even still, you’re in your own head a little bit too much about what’s gone on the past few years?

Brackman: “Not really…”

Ashmore: Is it hard not to be?

Brackman: “Yeah.  It’s hard not to think, ‘Oh, in a split second, I could go back to throwing like I did last year.’  But I think I’m over that.  I’m not really worried about the walks anymore, because this year I feel like I’ve turned it around.  I think my mechanics are smooth, I can throw nine out of ten pitches for strikes.  I feel like I’m over all that stuff that happened last year, and I’ve just got to look ahead.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

6 Responses to “Let’s Chat With Andrew Brackman, Shall We?”

  1. Joe Says:

    Very impressive interview. Brackman handled all the questions well and I feel you asked great questions. Do you know where his velocity is at? Also, just a reminder, can you find out if Noesi and Romine will be there on Saturday because I am going to be in the area and would love to see Romine play. Thanks again in advance!

  2. Link Dump: Send Swish!, Brackman, Mariano | River Avenue Blues Says:

    […] of RAB Mike Ashmore chatted with 2007 first round pick Andrew Brackman recently, and posted the results for all to see. The entire Q&A is worth the read, but I found the info about adjusting his […]

  3. JMK Says:

    Great interview, Mike. Brackman, as Joe said, really handled the questions well (and they were solid questions).

  4. Joe Says:

    btw Mike did you give an answer to the Montero/ Romine thread you created? Would love to hear your opinion on that as you have seen both play quite enough to have a pulse?

  5. thunderbaseball Says:

    Brackman was touching 96 during his debut…

    I don’t know what the exact plan is for players leaving…

    Glad y’all liked the interview…

    I’d trade Montero. More value, and Romine’s a more complete player.

  6. chat Says:

    Great interview, Mike! Thank you!

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