Brackman, a 6-foot-10 forward in basketball who averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds as a freshman in 2004-05, has emerged as a top starting pitcher for the NCAA Tournament-bound Wolfpack baseball team. Entering this week's ACC Tournament at Jacksonville, Fla., Brackman is 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA. In 30 innings he has allowed 18 hits and 13 walks, with 34 strikeouts.
|The NBA loves players with Andrew Brackman's size who can also hit 3-pointers. (Getty Images)|
But they need not be frightening to N.C. State basketball fans. Not until 2007, anyway.
As good as Brackman is on the mound, as much as professional baseball teams might want him, he's not going anywhere for at least two years. He can't. Major League Baseball rules prohibit NCAA players from being drafted until they turn 21, and in Brackman's case, that won't happen until the 2007 draft.
By then Brackman will have played two more seasons on the Wolfpack basketball team, giving coach Herb Sendek ample time to prepare for his departure. The only way for Brackman to enter the baseball draft sooner would be for him to transfer to a junior college for his sophomore season, in which case he would be eligible for the 2006 draft. That's an avenue that longtime major league right-hander Alex Fernandez took as a Miami freshman in 1989, transferring to Miami-Dade Community College South so he could enter the 1990 draft; Fernandez went No. 4 overall to the Chicago White Sox.
It's not the avenue Brackman plans to take. If he was in a hurry to reach the majors, he wouldn't have spread the word during his senior season at Moeller High in Cincinnati that he was serious about playing both sports in college. Major-league scouts believed him. Although the Cleveland Indians told the Wolfpack coaching staff that Brackman was rated a fifth-round pick, he went undrafted in 2004.
Brackman was not broken-hearted.
"I love them both," Brackman said of baseball and basketball. "I don't plan on giving up (either) of them. If one takes away from the other, that's just how it's going to be."
That's not how it has been. Playing two sports has agreed with Brackman beyond anyone's expectations. He made the honorable mention ACC all-freshman team in basketball, and already he has sent Bruce Winkworth, the Wolfpack's media contact for baseball, digging through the school record book. In his second start, Brackman pitched seven innings against No. 7 North Carolina on April 29, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out 12. The strikeout total was the most by a Wolfpack freshman in 18 years.
"Everybody saw what they saw," said Wolfpack baseball coach Elliott Avent. "I was amazed at what I saw. I wasn't expecting anything close to what Drew's done so far."
Brackman uses his height about as well as any tall pitcher ever has. His almost 100 percent overhand motion allows him to fire the ball downward to hitters, who must feel as if the pitch is coming off a Ferris wheel.
Additionally, Brackman's extension off the mound is so long that Wolfpack coaches estimate his release point at 52 or 53 feet from the plate. That's an almost unfair advantage for a pitcher whose fastball was clocked at 95 miles an hour in his first start of the season. And his fastball isn't his best pitch. That would be the curve, which he can throw for strikes even in fastball counts.