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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Brandon Claussen

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 5/1/79, Age: 22, Height: 6’2’’, Weight: 175, Bats: L, Throws: L. Acquired: Yankees - Drafted in the 34th Round of the 1998 Draft (Howard JC, TX). 2000 Stats: (Low-A - Greensboro) 8-5, 4.05 ERA, 98 IP, 91 H, 44 BB, 98 K; (High-A - Tampa) 2-5, 3.10 ERA, 52 IP, 49 H, 17 BB, 44 K. 2001 Stats: (High-A - Tampa) 5-2, 2.73 ERA, 56 IP, 47 H, 2 HR, 13 BB, 69 K; (AA - Norwich) 9-2, 2.13 ERA, 131 IP, 101 H, 6 HR, 55 BB, 151 K.

Brandon Claussen is the second of three similar junior college "draft-and-follows" that the Yankees have signed in the past decade. All three are from Texas, all three pitch, and all three of them are southpaws. The first one is Andy Pettitte, who has amassed a 115-65 record in his first seven years as a Yankee. The most recent is Sean Henn, who before Tommy John surgery threw 99 mph. Claussen is more like Pettitte than Henn, although he can reach 94 with his fastball. He throws it more comfortably in the 90-92 range, and it has quite a bit of movement (much like Pettitte’s). He also throws a curveball, which is probably already a major league caliber pitch, and a changeup that progressed nicely this year but is still his third option. In my opinion, the most impressive thing about Brandon Claussen is not just the fact that his entire stat line has improved each half-season, it’s that he has continued to be more effective against hitters even though he is moving up the ladder. After allowing 201 baserunners in 150 innings (12.0/9) in 2000, Claussen cut that down to 216 in 187 innings (10.4/9) this year. He struck out 8.5 per nine last year, and improved that to 10.6 this season. His ERA’s decreased by .95, .37, and .60 over the last three half-seasons. He has made tremendous strides, all while increasing the level of his competition. He has turned into one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game. The only potentially problematic sign from 2001, aside from the 187 innings thrown, is the walk total at AA. Claussen was even more effective in AA than down at Tampa, but he did walk almost four men per nine innings. He was able to maintain his effectiveness by becoming extremely stingy with hits, but his control bears scrutiny at the beginning of 2002.
The Yankees are perennially quite deep, but certain players seem earmarked for big-league spots as soon as they’re ready. Drew Henson and Alfonso Soriano were/are those kind of players, and Claussen is as well. He will most likely start at Columbus (AAA), but the Yanks rotation is rather old. I would expect that Brandon will see some time in New York this year, and will probably be up to stay in 2003. He is rather similar to Andy Pettitte in background and stuff, with a slightly better curve but no cutter. I think he could be a solid #2 or #3 starter within four or five years.


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