Kennedy Joins Staten Island for Playoffs

The Yankees' top pick in this year's draft, USC right-hander Ian Kennedy, made his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees on Wednesday. He started the first game of a double-header, pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings, and is scheduled to start Game 3 in the first round of the of the NY-Penn League playoffs.

"It was exciting," Ian Kennedy said of his Yankee debut. "I mean, I was content with how it went. If I was throwing all season, I wouldn't be happy about it, but I haven't pitched in a while, so I'm excited about it. And I'm ready to start my pro career, obviously [Wednesday]."

Kennedy is starting his season three months after he was drafted this June. He says that problems arose in finalizing the deal, which caused his late start to his professional career.

"As I was drafted, it just took a little longer than I thought it would," he said. "And the Yankees and I were set up and then something went wrong with the Commissioner's office. I'm not too sure about that. Then I went to Tampa about August 10, three weeks ago, threw some bullpens there, threw some B.P., and then I was ready for here."

Kennedy was on schedule to start on Wednesday, so he took the mound for the first game of a double-header. A pitch count limited him to only 2 2/3 innings, in which he allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out two. Manager Gaylen Pitts revealed that Kennedy will start Game 3 of the Baby Bomber's first play-off round, if necessary, on September 12.

"I'm getting thrown in. I didn't know it was going to be wrapped up when I got here," Kennedy said of the postseason start. Staten Island clinched the McNamara Division title with an Aberdeen loss on Tuesday. "They said it was going to be the middle of a playoff race. So, I like that. It doesn't really bother me too much. But it's kind of exciting."

Kennedy does not think he needs to prepare himself mentally for such an important game, citing his prior experience. "Being at school and going to USC, and my high school team, we were always put in high-pressure situations. So it's nothing new."

Prior to 2006, Kennedy was considered one of the top college pitchers but an off-year allowed him to drop to the Yankees with the 22nd overall pick.

"It was just a season of ups and downs and you kind of just learn from it," Kennedy said of his senior season. "I never really had that before. It's just part of my learning. I'd rather have that in my college season than playing in pro ball, but I guess every pitcher goes through it."

"And the college season is so short," he continued. "If you look at it, it's like a third of a regular pro season. So if it was a pro season, I could have stepped it up and had a good second half. It happens all the time. I honestly couldn't explain it."

Immediately after the draft, Damon Oppenheimer suggested that Kennedy's college catcher had something to do with the pitcher's off-season. Kennedy explained that it was a matter of getting comfortable with his new battery mate, who joined the team later in the year.

"He's a good friend of mine now, so I don't want to put him down or anything," Kennedy said of his college battery mate, "but he said he had a rough year himself, and getting adjusted to a new school. He didn't come in until spring and I only had a couple of sessions to work with him. I had a really good relationship with the first catcher."

"And it really wasn't that," he added. "Our whole team had a down year, so it's kind of rough. We usually don't have that. We had a really bad skid at the end."

Armed with a fastball that sits at 90 miles per hour, a 83-85 MPH slider, a hard curveball, and a 76 MPH change, Kennedy admittedly will not blow batters away with power stuff. "I'm more of a control guy," he said. "I don't really throw it by guys, unless I fool them somehow."

He does not have a fastball that lights up radar guns or awes crowds, but he does have four solid pitches and feels comfortable using any of them as his out-pitch.

"I feel that I can throw any pitch at any time and strike out a guy," he said. "If a guy can't hit a slider, I'll throw a slider. I just basically try to pick at their weaknesses. I guess some guys don't have any, so you have to go to your own strengths, but I mean, my strength is picking other people's weaknesses."

When asked if he thought any of his pitches were weaker than the others, Kennedy laughed, "I wouldn't reveal that. I mean, I have trust in all my pitches, and a lot of guys don't have that trust and that's what I think that the Yankees like. I have a lot of confidence in all my pitches."

The Yankees liked Kennedy enough to take him with their first overall pick, because of that advanced feel for pitching and have expressed that they think he can move quickly through their system. However, Kennedy says beyond these two starts with Staten Island, depending on how far the Baby Bombers go in the playoffs, the Yankees have no definite plans about his future.

"I think that they're expecting to," Kennedy said of moving quickly, "but I guess it all depends on how progressing goes. I guess, how spring goes, see how everything develops. They said they're not too sure about it."

The Yankees have also not made any decision about where Kennedy will pitch next year either.

"They don't know about that," he said. "I guess it depends on if I play fall ball, and I don't know if it really does matter. They're not too sure either, so we're playing it by ear."

"I just going to instructs," he added. "I think it's the 20th. And then, I think that's about two weeks, and I don't know what they have planned after that, if I'm going to fall ball or anything. But as of right now, I'm just going to instructs and then work out in the fall and get ready for spring."

For now, the only certainty is that Kennedy is finally a Yankee and playing ball. The Yankees hope his first-round talent will help Staten Island in their quest to clinch a second consecutive NY-Penn League Championship.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\n\"It was exciting,\" Ian Kennedy said of his Yankee debut. \"I mean, I was content with how it went. If I was throwing all season, I wouldn't be happy about it, but I haven't pitched in a while, so I'm excited about it. And I'm ready to start my pro career, obviously [Wednesday].\"
\r\n
\r\nKennedy is starting his season three months after he was drafted this June. He says that problems arose in finalizing the deal, which caused his late start to his professional career.
\r\n
\r\n\"As I was drafted, it just took a little longer than I thought it would,\" he said. \"And the Yankees and I were set up and then something went wrong with the Commissioner's office. I'm not too sure about that. Then I went to Tampa about August 10, three weeks ago, threw some bullpens there, threw some B.P., and then I was ready for here.\"
\r\n
\r\nKennedy was on schedule to start on Wednesday, so he took the mound for the first game of a double-header. A pitch count limited him to only 2 2/3 innings, in which he allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out two. Manager Gaylen Pitts revealed that Kennedy will start Game 3 of the Baby Bomber's first play-off round, if necessary, on September 12.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm getting thrown in. I didn't know it was going to be wrapped up when I got here,\" Kennedy said of the postseason start. Staten Island clinched the McNamara Division title with an Aberdeen loss on Tuesday. \"They said it was going to be the middle of a playoff race. So, I like that. It doesn't really bother me too much. But it's kind of exciting.\"
\r\n
\r\nKennedy does not think he needs to prepare himself mentally for such an important game, citing his prior experience. \"Being at school and going to USC, and my high school team, we were always put in high-pressure situations. So it's nothing new.\"
\r\n
\r\nPrior to 2006, Kennedy was considered one of the top college pitchers but an off-year allowed him to drop to the Yankees with the 22nd overall pick.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was just a season of ups and downs and you kind of just learn from it,\" Kennedy said of his senior season. \"I never really had that before. It's just part of my learning. I'd rather have that in my college season than playing in pro ball, but I guess every pitcher goes through it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"And the college season is so short,\" he continued. \"If you look at it, it's like a third of a regular pro season. So if it was a pro season, I could have stepped it up and had a good second half. It happens all the time. I honestly couldn't explain it.\"
\r\n
\r\nImmediately after the draft, Damon Oppenheimer suggested that Kennedy's college catcher had something to do with the pitcher's off-season. Kennedy explained that it was a matter of getting comfortable with his new battery mate, who joined the team later in the year.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a good friend of mine now, so I don't want to put him down or anything,\" Kennedy said of his college battery mate, \"but he said he had a rough year himself, and getting adjusted to a new school. He didn't come in until spring and I only had a couple of sessions to work with him. I had a really good relationship with the first catcher.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"And it really wasn't that,\" he added. \"Our whole team had a down year, so it's kind of rough. We usually don't have that. We had a really bad skid at the end.\"
\r\n
\r\nArmed with a fastball that sits at 90 miles per hour, a 83-85 MPH slider, a hard curveball, and a 76 MPH change, Kennedy admittedly will not blow batters away with power stuff. \"I'm more of a control guy,\" he said. \"I don't really throw it by guys, unless I fool them somehow.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe does not have a fastball that lights up radar guns or awes crowds, but he does have four solid pitches and feels comfortable using any of them as his out-pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel that I can throw any pitch at any time and strike out a guy,\" he said. \"If a guy can't hit a slider, I'll throw a slider. I just basically try to pick at their weaknesses. I guess some guys don't have any, so you have to go to your own strengths, but I mean, my strength is picking other people's weaknesses.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhen asked if he thought any of his pitches were weaker than the others, Kennedy laughed, \"I wouldn't reveal that. I mean, I have trust in all my pitches, and a lot of guys don't have that trust and that's what I think that the Yankees like. I have a lot of confidence in all my pitches.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees liked Kennedy enough to take him with their first overall pick, because of that advanced feel for pitching and have expressed that they think he can move quickly through their system. However, Kennedy says beyond these two starts with Staten Island, depending on how far the Baby Bombers go in the playoffs, the Yankees have no definite plans about his future.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think that they're expecting to,\" Kennedy said of moving quickly, \"but I guess it all depends on how progressing goes. I guess, how spring goes, see how everything develops. They said they're not too sure about it.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees have also not made any decision about where Kennedy will pitch next year either.
\r\n
\r\n\"They don't know about that,\" he said. \"I guess it depends on if I play fall ball, and I don't know if it really does matter. They're not too sure either, so we're playing it by ear.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I just going to instructs,\" he added. \"I think it's the 20th. And then, I think that's about two weeks, and I don't know what they have planned after that, if I'm going to fall ball or anything. But as of right now, I'm just going to instructs and then work out in the fall and get ready for spring.\"
\r\n
\r\nFor now, the only certainty is that Kennedy is finally a Yankee and playing ball. The Yankees hope his first-round talent will help Staten Island in their quest to clinch a second consecutive NY-Penn League Championship.
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