Q&A With Andrew Brackman

Andrew Brackman, one of the top collegiate pitchers in the nation, was selected in the first round of Thursday's 2007 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Brackman sat down with PinstripesPlus.com for an exclusive interview to talk about landing with the Yankees hours after being drafted.

PinstripesPlus.com: Tell us, what does it feel like being drafted by the Yankees?

Andrew Brackman: I can't even describe it. It's been a very stressful past couple of months - ups and downs - and expectations. Once I heard my name called, and it was in the first round and I knew it was the Yankees, it was unbelievable.

PinstripesPlus: Were you surprised it was the Yankees that drafted you?

Brackman: I wasn't really surprised. I knew that they had a lot of interest. Once I heard they had a lot of interest, I knew that's where I wanted to go. I didn't want to go to any other team. I had my hopes and dreams set on going to the Yankees. I'm just glad that I can start my career with the Yankees and hopefully finish my career with the Yankees. I wanted to come up through their system and be a real Yankee.

PinstripesPlus: Well why the Yankees? Why did you want to be a part of the Yankees so bad?

Brackman: Growing up in Cincinnati, I was born into being a Reds fan. But I would always have the Yankees hats and people would always say, 'why are you wearing that Yankees hat?'. There's always some haters out there that don't like the Yankees and I'd always say, 'what not to like, they're the best team in baseball'. That was always my answer. I never dreamed of playing for the Yankees or anything like that, but once I heard my name called, it was exciting. I hugged my mom, I had hugged my dad and my uncle - I can't even explain how I felt.

PinstripesPlus: Have you heard anything about the Yankees from a player development standpoint?

Brackman: The Cincinnati area scout came and sat down with me and my family when I was coming out of high school. He told me everything and it sounded great. That's where I wanted to go - sign me up right now. I forgot about it over the years. I don't remember exactly what he told me, I know it's the real deal coming up through their system. I wouldn't want to be anywhere but the best.

PinstripesPlus: Talk about your basketball background. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this was the first year you focused solely on baseball - right?

Brackman: Yeah it was the first year I focused solely on baseball. I played two years at NC State basketball and baseball. I love both of them. I miss the hardwood. I miss being out there and playing the game of basketball. But I came to a decision at the beginning of this year that I wanted my career to be on the baseball field. It was mainly a family-oriented decision. I thought it would be the best career path for later on in life. It was definitely hard to hang up the basketball shoes, but it was definitely done with a purpose. I thought there were a lot of things that I needed to work, there are still a lot of things that I need to work on - like command, getting my mechanics flowing smoothly, and maybe incorporating a better changeup - but those will come. I feel like a freshman all over again. I'm at the bottom of the boat now. I've got to work my way up and I'm fully prepared to do that. I've done it many times before and I'm going to do it again.

PinstripesPlus: I spoke with your college coach - Coach Avent - and he and his coaching staff said there were times where you were the most dominating pitcher they had ever seen and there were times that you struggled, your inconsistencies. Do you think those inconsistencies were a result of playing two different sports your entire life and not focusing on baseball solely? Now that you are focused just on baseball, do you think you can be the consistent pitcher many believe you can be?

Brackman: That's what I plan on doing. I plan on finding that spot where I can be consistent on a daily and weekly basis. I hope it doesn't take me long to get to that spot. I plan on doing everything in my power to pitching in Yankee Stadium in pinstripes.

PinstripesPlus: Talk about your stuff. What kind of pitches do you throw? What is your best pitch and which pitch do you think needs the most work?

Brackman: I throw a four-seam and two-seam fastball, sitting in the mid-90's. To tell you the truth, that's all I threw [two-seamers] in my freshman and sophomore years. I didn't start throwing a four-seamer until this year. My two-seamer velocity has gotten up to 94-95 MPH too. I can't hit 100 MPH, I'm kind of pissed about that. It's been clocked at 99 MPH a few times on a couple of different occasions. A changeup, I just incorporated that this year. I've got to get the feel of that. I would really like to focus on throwing it to my comfort level where I know that it's going to get outs. I've got a regular curveball and I've got a knuckle-curveball. I've been throwing that since like the third grade because you're not allowed to throw a curveball when you're that young and I don't break it off or anything like that. I just put my two knuckles on it and throw it as hard as I can. It has worked for me and I've kept it all throughout high school and college.

PinstripesPlus: Taking your stuff out of the equation, what do you think is your best attribute on the mound?

Brackman: It's definitely my height, but I also think it's being athletic at my height. I'm not a big, tall guy that goes out there and you can bunt on him for base hits all day. I can jump off the mound and field bunts and field my position very well.

PinstripesPlus: What would you say is the area of your game that needs the most work?

Brackman: Picking off and holding runners on. I think I just get too focused on the batter - 'I want to get this mother out, I want to get this hitter out'. I think I need to balance them out a little better.

PinstripesPlus: Aside from getting drafted, what would you say has been your best baseball moment to date?

Brackman: I'd say freshman year when I pitched against Andrew Miller against UNC-Chapel Hill. I had 13 strikeouts, walked off the mound, it was a great day.

PinstripesPlus: With all that you've been through the last couple of months, what does it mean to have things happen the way that they have by being picked by the Yankees?

Brackman: With everything that's happened, I didn't really plan that it would be this emotional, this much weight on my shoulders, these many ups and downs, and everything. I knew this day was going to come sooner or later and it's going to give my an uplift, a sign that says you're going to be alright. You can't ever really forget about the past or anything like that, but today was a very, very good day. It was one of the best days I've had in a while.

PinstripesPlus: Just a general question about signing - is it your desire to start your professional career this year with the Yankees?

Brackman: Just as soon as possible.

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