Tim Kennelly had a pretty good sense of what he was getting himself into when he signed with the Phillies. Mitch Graham, his best friend had signed with the Phils, as had another friend, Scott Mitchinson. Even all of that couldn't prepare him completely for adjusting to life in the U.S., but he did pretty well for himself. "It's more laid back at home. There is always something going on here," said Kennelly about his time in the states.
After keeping him in the Australian Baseball Academy, the Phillies decided it was time to see what Kennelly could do in the professional ranks here in the U.S. They started him slowly, keeping him in extended camp until the Gulf Coast League season started in June. It didn't take long for Kennelly to show that he belonged and his impressive first season begs an interesting debate about where he'll play in 2006. One thing is sure, Kennelly is becoming somewhat of an elder statesman of sorts now, since another friend, left-hander Daniel Schmidt, signed with the Phillies this past week. Now, it will be Kennelly in the role of mentor rather than him learning about the states and the organization from others.
|YEAR / TEAM||HR||RBI||AVG||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||SB||BB||KO||OBP|
Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent out of Australia.
Batting and Power: Kennelly doesn't have a lot of power, but has enough that he can turn on a pitch every now and then or take advantage of a mistake that a pitcher makes. He's more likely to hit for a higher average and he may hit about 15 homeruns per season. The real key to Kennelly's offensive skills is patience and discipline at the plate. He's got a great eye and had more walks than strikeouts in his inaugural pro season. Kennelly is a guy who can get on-base and drive in some runs if given the chance.
Baserunning and Speed: As with his power, Kennelly isn't exactly a speed burner, but he has enough speed to help himself and his team when he's on-base. He also has natural baserunning instincts and is a hard-nosed type player who loves to grab an extra base here and there when he can. Just as pitchers have to be aware of making a mistake when Kennelly is at bat, outfielders have to be careful not to get lazy on balls hit their way or Kennelly will take advantage of the situation to grab an extra base here and there.
Defense: In Australia, Kennelly played outfield, but the Phillies moved him to third base. It's going to be interesting to see whether or not they keep him there, since they also have last year's top draft pick Mike Costanzo at third base. Costanzo is ahead of Kennelly in the pecking order, so Kennelly could find himself either back in the outfield or learning another new position before too long. Considering that it was his first season at third, Kennelly did okay for himself, but there is room for improvement and if that doesn't happen, then there may be another reason to move him back to the outfield.
Projection: It's going to be awfully tempting for the Phillies to move Kennelly to Lakewood, but that's not likely to happen. They are likely to keep him in extended camp to work on his defense and then send him out to Batavia when the short-season New York - Penn League gets underway. Since he's only 18, there is time to work on things with Kennelly and no real need to push him above where he should be at this point.
ETA: The thought is that once he hits the full-season leagues, Kennelly should be ready to move quickly. It's not out of the question that he could do what Michael Bourn did this past season and skip over Clearwater. He's still probably four years away, give or take a year, depending on how quickly he develops.
Comparison: While it's not likely that Kennelly will show the power that Chase Utley has the potential to provide, in all other ways, he could be a right-handed version of the Phillies second baseman. He has the same sort of go-get-em attitude and isn't afraid to get dirty and make things happen.