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Bleich, Brackman Must Step Up in Yanks System

By Jed Weisberger ~ February 17th, 2010. Filed under: Yanks Minors.

By the time I arrive at the Yankees’ Player Development facility, just a stone’s throw from George M. Steinbrenner Field, hopefully many of the questions surrounding these former top draft picks will be answered.

Both are happy to see 2009 fade into oblivion. Bleich, a supplemental first-round pick out of Stanford in 2008, had a frustrating year, while Brackman, taken in 2007 out of North Carolina as the Yankees top pick, had a horrendous season at best.

Now Bleich, a lefty, and Brackman, a righty, must pick up the pieces of what transpired last season. Will one or both jump back on the right track? By mid-March, we may be able to tell.

Bleich, who made just a cameo appearance at Staten Island in 2008, a single start, was deemed ready for Double-A Trenton after putting together a  6-4, 3.40 mark at Class A Advanced Tampa during the first-half of the season.

With a strikeout-walk ratio of 56-22, he was keeping Florida State League batters off-balance with his 90-92 mph fastball mixed with his curve and change, which can be very good at times.

He came to the Thunder with high hopes, looking to possibly start the 2010 season at Triple-A Scranton. Quite frankly, matters did not work out that way.

Bleich, en route to a 3-6, 6.65 mark in 13 Double-A starts, kind of crashed and burned in the Eastern League, where more-patient Double-A hitters let balls out of the strike zone pass and hit pitches more to their liking.

When he fell behind in counts, Bleich paid for it dearly.

“It’s like I had one inconsistent inning in a lot of those games, and it really hurt me,’’ he said, describing what went on in Waterfront Park last summer.

With the Yankees investing $700,000 in him, the 22-year-old (he turns 23 June 18) will get another shot at Double-A.  If Bleich parlays his experience of last season into 2010 results, all will be forgiven. He faces a key season.

So does Brackman in a lot of ways.  Many figured, in his first full season after Tommy John surgery –the Yankees accorded him a $3.35 million bonus as part of a $4.55 million guaranteed contract – and got sixpence for the shillings last summer in the South Atlantic League.

Not only did Brackman, 24, go 2-12, 5.91 in 29 appearance – 19 starts – at Charleston, his command and control were often absent. He ranked second in Minor League Baseball with 26 wild pitches.

On the other hand, one cannot get too detrimental about Brackman in the South Atlantic League.  In 2008, Boston reliever Danny Bard, as wild as an untamed coyote, did his Rick Vaughn imitation in the same league at Greenville.

Bard got straightened out, and Brackman, who can almost reach 100 mph when healthy, will be given a chance to do the same at Class A Advanced Tampa.

Like Bard, some scouts feel Brackman might flourish more as a reliever with his imposing 6-10, 240-pound frame.

This season will tell whether these two live up to their Yankees contracts or become a pair of tax deductions.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

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1 Response to Bleich, Brackman Must Step Up in Yanks System

  1. Paul Catalano

    Brackman might be better as a reliever. And the year back from TJ surgery is usually a wash anyway, especially when you’re a younger guy.

    Bleich sounds like he was just rushed and it was a “learning” year.

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