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01/04/12 8:16 PM EST
Reds sign former Yanks top pick Brackman
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Reds completed the signing Wednesday of right-handed pitcher and local product Andrew Brackman to a one-year contract. Brackman, who was the first-round Draft pick of the Yankees in 2007 (30th overall), was born and raised in Cincinnati and was a two-sport star at Moeller High School. "It's awesome, I'm pretty excited about it," Brackman said by phone just after completing a workout in his offseason home of Raleigh, N.C. "My whole family is too." Cincinnati will have Brackman compete for a spot in the bullpen at Spring Training. It's a low-risk move for the Reds, since the 26-year-old was signed to a split contract that would pay him near the league minimum salary should he make the team. He also has a Minor League option remaining. "We like his arm and upside," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We'll bring him into camp and give him a chance to compete." Signed by New York to a four-year, $3.35 million Major League contract out of North Carolina State, Brackman's selection came with risk because the club knew he would promptly require Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The 6-foot-10 Brackman pitched in only three games at the big league level. They were all relief appearances in September 2011, during which he logged 2 1/3 scoreless innings. In three Minor League seasons, Brackman was 15-29 with a 5.11 ERA. The Yankees declined his 2012 option after last season. The past season for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre, Brackman was 3-6 with a 6.00 ERA in 33 games, including 13 starts. He issued 75 walks with 75 strikeouts over 96 innings. "We're going to try to refine his delivery to improve his command and control," Jocketty said. "If he can do that, he can be successful. We have good pitching coaches that should help him quite a bit." Reds scouts believed Brackman showed improvement once the Yankees organization moved him from the rotation to the bullpen in Scranton. "We like his ability and we think we can help him get back on track," Jocketty said.
Brackman, who played baseball and basketball for Moeller, frequented a fair share of Reds games as a spectator."I remember games at Riverfront and Cinergy [Field] and watching Barry Larkin," Brackman said. "I used to love going to games, and to Bengals games. I was at their game the day before Christmas. I'm happy to be going home. I'll have my family there and my friends as well." Following some challenging seasons for the Yankees organization, Brackman enjoyed the thought of rebooting his career in a new place. "It's definitely a fresh start," he said. "I'm anxious to get going. At this point, I just want to play. I want to be in the big leagues. Showing up with the possiblity to make the team excites me more for the season to come."