Jeff Kennard scouting report

Reliever Jeff Kennard was drafted in the 40th round of the 2000 MLB Draft and signed with the Yankees as a draft-and-follow. He has quietly posted a 26-17 record and a 3.01 ERA in his six-year career and was added to the Yankees 40-man roster this offseason. PinstripesPlus.com offers a scouting report on Jeff Kennard, now with the Angels after being acquired in a trade for Jose Molina.

The scouting report was done prior to the start of the 2007 season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jeff Kennard
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: July 26, 1981
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"Things went pretty well," Kennard said of his 2006 season. "I definitely got back to where I wanted to be where I was at in 2001 and 2002. I had a little trouble in 2003 and 2004 with arm trouble. After going through all that and getting my mechanics back I thought the season went well."

"Just being able to start off the year in Tampa and having the pitching coach there that I've worked with for the last four years, it was pretty good," he continued. "He definitely got my arm slot back to where it's at so I could get my velocity up and back to locating and throwing more strikes."

He went a combined 6-6 with a 2.64 ERA in two stops between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this past season. And while the numbers were very good, the fact that he was finally fully healthy for the first time in three years was his biggest achievement in 2006.

Stronger than ever, Kennard was able to pick up his velocity to his pre-injury days and the Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall League to see how he would stack up against the best hitting prospects in the game.

And while the overall numbers weren't very good, the Yankees were pleased once again with his stuff.

"Things went pretty good out there," he said of his time in the Arizona Fall League. "I struggled a little at first. I had a little trouble with a blister on the finger. Once I got that settled and everything, I thought I did pretty well."

"It's definitely a hitter's league out there and you can learn a lot. Pitching-wise, most of the guys out there are the best hitters on each of their teams, big prospects, so you learn fast not to leave balls up, how to pitch backwards, and pitch to those kind of guys."

The model of persistency in his career, and now showing the live fastball he once had earlier in his career, the Yankees rewarded him by placing him on the 40-man roster upon the conclusion of the AFL.

"It's awesome," he said of being added to the 40-man roster. "It's one of those things you've been working for since you get to the minors, being able to be put on the roster. It's a great feeling. Everybody I've talked to have said congratulations and you deserved this. I'm just glad hard work and dedication actually paid off."

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," he said of now being just a phone call away from the big leagues. "I've talked to guys like Jeff Karstens and T.J. Beam, and having Sean Henn as my roommate out in the Arizona Fall League - it still hasn't sunk in yet. I've heard all the stories about being called up. It's just one of those things where I can't see it happening for me until it does."

Only throwing an average Major League fastball in each of his previous three injury plagued seasons, sitting 88-91 MPH, Kennard brought is velocity back up to the 92-95 MPH range and hit 98 MPH a few times this past season.

Also making significant improvements to his secondary pitches, the stuff is certainly there once again for Jeff Kennard. Inching his way closer to the Major Leagues, he realizes what the next step is to finding a permanent home in the Bronx.

"Definitely getting more consistent throwing my strikes," he listed as the things he needs to improve to be big league ready, "definitely get more consistent with my slider. Sometimes it comes out of hand wrong and hangs. If I get consistent with that and work on my changeup that I've been working on, hopefully get all that working and stay up there and help the team out."

He is most likely ticketed to begin the 2007 season in the minor leagues, but he says that even though he proved something this past season, he has even more to prove this upcoming year.

"Pretty much, yeah," he said if this past season was a year of vindication. "I just want to go out there and prove to them that I deserved being put on the 40-man, hopefully open some eyes in big league camp, and get my name out there."

"I'm excited," he said about being invited to his first big league Spring Training. "I've heard stories about how awesome it is over there and how great all the guys are. I just can't wait for Spring Training. I'm actually going to head down there soon, the first of January, to get started and everything worked out."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2006

Trenton

3-6

1

54.2

51

21

58

3.29

2006

Tampa

3-0

2

27.0

17

9

19

1.33

2005

Trenton

0-1

0

6.2

6

5

4

0.00

2005

Tampa

7-3

0

53.0

40

25

49

3.40

2004

Trenton

0-1

0

8.0

14

9

7

10.13

2004

Tampa

2-1

0

22.2

23

10

21

5.56

2004

Gulf Coast

0-0

0

2.0

4

0

3

0.00

2003

Trenton

1-0

0

18.2

16

14

8

3.86

2003

Tampa

6-3

2

54.1

34

29

34

2.15

2002

Tampa

0-2

0

20.2

18

14

14

3.92

2002

Greensboro

4-0

0

37.1

27

25

35

1.93

2001

Gulf Coast

0-0

9

23.2

17

10

30

1.52



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Split-Changeup.

Fastball. Kennard was a power arm when they drafted him, and after dealing with a series of injuries for two or three years, he is once again a power arm. He averaged 92-95 MPH with his four-seam fastball this past season and topped out in the 97-98 MPH range. He also throws a heavy sinking two-seam fastball in the 90-94 MPH range, akin to Chien-Ming Wang. He also throws a cut-fastball that he uses to tail it in to right-handed batters. Kennard has good command of his fastball and he's able to blow it by people.

Other Pitches. Kennard's primary "offspeed" pitch is a power slider he throws 85-86 MPH. As mentioned above, it is a bit inconsistent for him at times but it certainly has gotten better over the years. He's also working on developing his split-change but it remains a work in progress right now.

Pitching. Style-wise, Kennard's game isn't really all that far off from Wang's. He attacks batters with power sinkers, power fastballs, power cutters, and power sliders. He pitches a bit more to contact now - getting opposing batters to roll over on his pitches and bounce out harmlessly into double-plays - but he has enough juice to blow it by them as well. He's only as good as his command however, but if he can further develop the control of his slider and splitter, he's going to be even more deadly on the mound.

Projection. Kennard has 14 career saves in six years - nine of them coming in his professional debut in 2000 with the GCL Yankees. But don't let his lack of saves cloud the fact that Kennard can have some nasty closer stuff at times. He's a dark-horse closer candidate at the big league level with his plus fastball and nasty slider, especially if he can learn to command it more consistently. The safer bet however is he'll be a setup man in the Majors, primarily a 7th inning type. But keep a close eye on the development of his slider and splitter because he could develop into something more.

ETA. 2008. Being placed on the 40-man roster means Kennard could see some big league action as soon as the upcoming season, but it appears more than likely the Yankees are going to want him to work on his secondary pitches a bit more in 2007. He could begin the year in Double-A Trenton, but he should the majority of his time in Triple-A Scranton and be just a phone call away.

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