Unlike many young players in the minor leagues who are drafted out of high school, Tommy Kahnle played two years of college baseball. He pitched for Division II Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL where he was also on the 2009 NCAA Championship team.
A native of Latham, NY, he was chosen by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handed pitcher played his debut season with the Staten Island Yankees where he accrued three saves in eleven relief appearances. He also allowed only one earned run in the 16 innings pitched last year. After his success in Staten Island, the 21-year old was moved up to play for the Charleston RiverDogs in 2011.
"I thought I did really well last year," Kahnle said. "I actually started throwing more strikes as soon as I hit pro ball."
Having only been drafted last year, Spring Training was a new experience for the pitcher. As he was adjusting to camp, he was also working on adding a third pitch to his repertoire; the slider. Charleston's pitching coach Carlos Chantres saw the potential in Kahnle right away.
"What I saw was a good arm with a real good changeup," Chantres explained. "We worked on a couple things delivery-wise; staying back and normal things that all pitchers need. And we're trying to get his slider, which has come a long way."
Kahnle said that he is getting more comfortable with the slider. He attributed the more recent success with the slider to a new grip that he has been trying. Although he feels that his slider is not catching up to his changeup quite yet, he was optimistic about the pitch continuing to get better throughout the season. Chantres seemed to have more confidence in Kahnle's slider saying that he sees the potential for the slider to be even better than Kahnle's changeup.
Another sore spot for Kahnle is command on his fastball. He has walked a few too many batters so far this season but said that he has been working on his mechanics to prevent that problem. Kahnle has been pitching upwards of 90 mph and even hits 95 at times, but without control the speed does not have as much impact.
"Delivery and not trying to overthrow as much," Chantres stated of what Kahnle needs to improve on this season. "He sees the radar gun sometimes and he wants to throw a little harder than he should. Staying under control and within himself is basically his biggest key right now."
Although he may have walked a few too many batters, he has also struck out 25 batters in the current season which has shown that his fastball is quite the pitch. With the RiverDogs he currently has a 0.98 ERA and has earned one save against the Rome Braves in April.
If Kahnle can master his slider and gain command over his fastball he should have what it takes to move up to Tampa. Chantres said he wants to see Kahnle produce quality strikes, keep his fastball in the zone, work ahead of hitters and stay aggressive with his pitches.
"It all depends on time," Kahnle said of his pitches. "Once I get that feel and then I just need to do it over and over again."
Kahnle Looking for Command
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