Cincinnati native Andrew Brackman
has started anew with his hometown organization. The 6-foot-10 right-hander became a free agent in the offseason after the New York Yankees cut loose their former first-rounder, and he signed with the Reds to launch his second chance.
Brackman struggled in five starts for Triple-A Louisville, then made three starts with the Bakersfield Blaze before moving to the bullpen. He allowed 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings with the Bats and had similar struggles in the Blaze rotation, but the numbers weren't the only reason why Brackman moved into relief.
"[I'm] pitching in the bullpen so I can throw twice a week and find my stuff," Brackman said. "It doesn't matter where I pitch. I'm working to get back to my old self."
His old self threw a fastball in the high 90s and dominated at Moeller High School in Cincinnati and at North Carolina State. The Yankees chose him 30th overall in the 2007 Draft and gave him a Major League contract. After three years of steady progress through the Yankees system, Brackman got a September call-up to the Majors in 2011 and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
However, the Yankees decided to let Brackman go after the 2011 season, in which he walked and struck out 75 batters in 96 Triple-A innings. Brackman's decision to join the Reds was easy, but his time in the new organization has presented bigger challenges for him.
It's changed Brackman's view of the game. Whether he's pitching for the Yankees or the Reds, Brackman said, "It's all the same game. You have to go out there and get outs."
He applies the same philosophy to pitching in the bullpen instead of the rotation.
"It's not what I planned to do," he said. "This game is funny. It has its ups and downs. I'm going out here every day, having fun and trying to be productive."
Brackman has continued the adjustments that helped him get through 2011, like consistency in location and repeating his arm slot.
"I'm still trying to figure out stuff that's comfortable for me," he said.
Pitching in relief isn't new for Brackman. He made 19 starts and 10 relief appearances at Class A Charleston in 2009 and had 20 relief appearances and 13 starts in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2011. As Brackman works to get back to the Majors and regain his best stuff, his stop in Bakersfield is another lesson along the way.
Landry goes long: Rancho Cucamonga center fielder Leon Landry has hit safely in his last five games, including a pair of four-hit performances. The Louisiana native knocked in nine runs last week, scored six times and is hitting .392 since June 23.
Quick recovery: Inland Empire reliever Eric Cendejas allowed three runs on June 27 against Lake Elsinore, marking the first time he'd allowed an earned run since June 2. He recovered with two scoreless outings at the end of the week, giving up two hits in 3 1/3 innings. He has nine strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings over his last 10 games.
Taylor on top: Stockton catcher Beau Taylor is making a name for himself while sharing the position with one of Oakland's top prospects, Max Stassi. Taylor collected six hits in two game against San Jose to start the week, raising his season average to .323.