Scouting Yankees Prospect #6: Ian Kennedy

The New York Yankees selected RHP Ian Kennedy in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of the University of Southern California. While he doesn't have the electric stuff of other guys, he is arguably one of the most intelligent pitchers in the farm system who could move quickly to the big leagues. Here is a scouting report on Ian Kennedy.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ian Kennedy
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: December 19, 1984
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Kennedy, represented by Scott Boras, didn't officially sign with the Yankees until August 17th and managed to get into just one regular season game with the Staten Island Yankees.

Because of his lack of innings upon signing, the Yankees sent him out to the Hawaiian Winter League to help adjust him to the professional game and he went 0-2 with a 4.45 ERA in nine games for the West Oahu CaneFires and managed to strike out 45 batters in just 30 1/3 innings.

"I'm happy with how it went," Kennedy said of his brief exposure to the professional game. "I learned a little bit, especially from all of my coaches out in Hawaii like Scott Aldred. To me it wasn't too big of a difference between a good college team versus pro ball. I think there's just more advanced guys in pro ball. I just tried to take what I learned from Scott and from everybody with the Yankees and tried to incorporate it with my pitching now."

More of a command pitcher than a raw power arm, Kennedy relies on mixing up four quality big league pitches with impeccable control and uses his baseball intelligence to pitch to hitters' weaknesses. It was his polish that caught the eyes of the Yankees on draft day.

"For the first 30 days, actually when I was in Tampa, they didn't real do anything much with me," said Kennedy. "They just wanted to watch and observe. Nardi had Scott - I guess they gave him a list of things they wanted me to work on mechanics-wise just so I can make my delivery more consistent where I can consistently put pitches where I want them."

"Since that's the way I pitch - I'm not a Joba [Chamberlain] where I have that electric arm - I have to focus on commanding my pitches and hitting my spots. They just wanted to make sure I repeated my delivery over and over and wanted to make everything more consistent. That was the main thing they did in Hawaii."

The small adjustments the Yankees made included eliminating some hand movements and little bounce he had in his delivery, adjustments Kennedy picked up pretty quickly.

"I feel like I made some improvements while I was there," Kennedy said of his time in Hawaii. "I was trying to work on some things but when I got in the game it was just get guys out. Sometimes you give up hits on pitches you're trying to work on and you've just go throw that way and just realize you're working on some things for the next season."

Stuff-wise, the Yankees were immediately impressed with his arsenal of pitches which already included in quality four-seam fastball, a quality curveball, a solid slider, and a plus changeup. They did however want him to work on developing a two-seam fastball to add to his repertoire.

"Pretty much what the situations call for, I'll throw whatever," Kennedy said of not favoring any one pitch. "I'm starting to work on the two. That's the thing they wanted me to work on was the two-seamer in Hawaii. I didn't throw it too much in games but in bullpens I was throwing it. I throw mainly the four because I can pretty much put it where I want it. I don't think I have quite the confidence yet in my two-seam."

While the Yankees had him working on some minor adjustments to his mechanics and begin developing a two-seam fastball, Kennedy says his approach at the professional level hasn't changed thus far.

"My approach never really changed," he said of his time in Hawaii. "If it did change it was because individual batters, individual situations, or individual teams I faced - like if I was blowing guys inside, I would keep attacking. Because of the way I pitch, I have to pitch to the hitter's weakness. I guess I never really changed when I was over there [approach-wise]. If they adjusted to the inside well, I adjusted to the outside."

Even though he has ten professional games under his belt, nine of them came in the winter leagues and Kennedy, in a lot of respects, hasn't really begun his true Yankee career.

"I honestly have no idea what to expect," he said looking forward to his first full year in the pros. "I know from talking to guys like Jeff Marquez and some other guys from other teams, they were saying that during the regular season you get more of a team-like feel rather than in Hawaii it's individual guys hanging out in individual groups."

"It's not a team thing, but in the regular season I've been told it's a little more exciting during the games and not so dead in the dugouts. That's really the only thing I expect, maybe just a little bit of more of a team feel when I'm out there."

Still a novice to the professional game, it is Kennedy's baseball intelligence, polish, and ability to make quick adjustments that has many Yankees insiders believing he will move quickly through the farm system, possibly even beginning his career in high-A Tampa this coming season.

"It doesn't matter where I play," he quickly admitted. "No matter where you play, you're pitching to batters and not to your competition. Like if I end up in Charleston, I'm not going to be disappointed and pitched pissed-off or anything like that. My goals are to pitch to my ability and if they want to bring me up or bring me down, I can't let that change my emotions. I've got to pitch like I would if I were pitching in the big leagues."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2006

Staten Island

0-0

2.2

2

2

2

0.00



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.

Fastball. Kennedy doesn't light up the radar gun with mid-90's heat, but what he does have is incredible command of a four-seam fastball that consistently sits 88-92 MPH. He can locate his fastball in all four quadrants of the plate at will already and has hit as high as 94 MPH with his fastball in college. As mentioned above, the Yankees are working with him to incorporate a two-seam fastball to give batters another look. Because the pitch is still in its infancy stage, there is no variation in his two-seam velocity just yet.

Other Pitches. While Kennedy insists he doesn't have a 'best' pitch, the reality is his plus changeup stands above the rest among his offspeed offerings. It is arguably his best strikeout pitch at the current time and he's able to deceive batters with great motion and movement. Both his curveball and slider are quality Major League pitches already and both can serve as strikeout pitches, depending on the situation.

Pitching. Kennedy is as competitive as they come. And while that helps give him a bulldog mentality on the mound, it is his innate ability to read batters' swings and pitch to their weaknesses that is quite uncanny. Throw in the fact he can throw four quality big league pitches with great control consistently, he keeps batters off-balance with the best of them. One of the more intelligent baseball players, he is also adept at making quick adjustments from batter to batter and from game to game. Despite not having power stuff, Kennedy is a very good strikeout pitcher. He averaged eleven strikeouts per nine innings over his college career because of his ability to consistently throw strikes and keep hitters guessing. Once he masters the two-seam fastball and begins to pitch a little more to contact, he'll be able to keep his pitch counts lower and have a positive influence on the bullpen.

Projection. Kennedy grew up idolizing Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina and style-wise, he compares favorably to both as an intelligent pitcher who knows how to mix in a wide array of big league pitches with great command. While it might be a hard task to duplicate their careers, Kennedy also compares very favorably to fellow Yankees farmhand Tyler Clippard. Like Clippard, there are other pitchers with better raw stuff, but not many can match his combination of quality stuff, poise, and command of the strike zone. He might not have the stuff of a frontline starting pitcher, but he's one of the safest bets to project as a middle-of-the-rotation type of starter at the big league level.

ETA. 2009. Even with just two official professional innings to his credit, Kennedy could get to the big leagues quickly. Judging from his polish, all signs point towards him opening the year in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees, much like Alan Horne did a year ago. If he can begin there, there's a strong possibility he could finish the season in Double-A. There's a slim chance he could reach the big leagues at some point in 2008, but the safer bet has him in the Bronx by 2009.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Ian Kennedy
\r\nPosition: Starting Pitcher
\r\nDOB: December 19, 1984
\r\nHeight: 6'0\"
\r\nWeight: 195
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nKennedy, represented by Scott Boras, didn't officially sign with the Yankees until August 17th and managed to get into just one regular season game with the Staten Island Yankees.
\r\n
\r\nBecause of his lack of innings upon signing, the Yankees sent him out to the Hawaiian Winter League to help adjust him to the professional game and he went 0-2 with a 4.45 ERA in nine games for the West Oahu CaneFires and managed to strike out 45 batters in just 30 1/3 innings.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm happy with how it went,\" Kennedy said of his brief exposure to the professional game. \"I learned a little bit, especially from all of my coaches out in Hawaii like Scott Aldred. To me it wasn't too big of a difference between a good college team versus pro ball. I think there's just more advanced guys in pro ball. I just tried to take what I learned from Scott and from everybody with the Yankees and tried to incorporate it with my pitching now.\"
\r\n
\r\nMore of a command pitcher than a raw power arm, Kennedy relies on mixing up four quality big league pitches with impeccable control and uses his baseball intelligence to pitch to hitters' weaknesses. It was his polish that caught the eyes of the Yankees on draft day.
\r\n
\r\n\"For the first 30 days, actually when I was in Tampa, they didn't real do anything much with me,\" said Kennedy. \"They just wanted to watch and observe. Nardi had Scott - I guess they gave him a list of things they wanted me to work on mechanics-wise just so I can make my delivery more consistent where I can consistently put pitches where I want them.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Since that's the way I pitch - I'm not a Joba [Chamberlain] where I have that electric arm - I have to focus on commanding my pitches and hitting my spots. They just wanted to make sure I repeated my delivery over and over and wanted to make everything more consistent. That was the main thing they did in Hawaii.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe small adjustments the Yankees made included eliminating some hand movements and little bounce he had in his delivery, adjustments Kennedy picked up pretty quickly.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel like I made some improvements while I was there,\" Kennedy said of his time in Hawaii. \"I was trying to work on some things but when I got in the game it was just get guys out. Sometimes you give up hits on pitches you're trying to work on and you've just go throw that way and just realize you're working on some things for the next season.\"
\r\n
\r\nStuff-wise, the Yankees were immediately impressed with his arsenal of pitches which already included in quality four-seam fastball, a quality curveball, a solid slider, and a plus changeup. They did however want him to work on developing a two-seam fastball to add to his repertoire.
\r\n
\r\n\"Pretty much what the situations call for, I'll throw whatever,\" Kennedy said of not favoring any one pitch. \"I'm starting to work on the two. That's the thing they wanted me to work on was the two-seamer in Hawaii. I didn't throw it too much in games but in bullpens I was throwing it. I throw mainly the four because I can pretty much put it where I want it. I don't think I have quite the confidence yet in my two-seam.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile the Yankees had him working on some minor adjustments to his mechanics and begin developing a two-seam fastball, Kennedy says his approach at the professional level hasn't changed thus far.
\r\n
\r\n\"My approach never really changed,\" he said of his time in Hawaii. \"If it did change it was because individual batters, individual situations, or individual teams I faced - like if I was blowing guys inside, I would keep attacking. Because of the way I pitch, I have to pitch to the hitter's weakness. I guess I never really changed when I was over there [approach-wise]. If they adjusted to the inside well, I adjusted to the outside.\"
\r\n
\r\nEven though he has ten professional games under his belt, nine of them came in the winter leagues and Kennedy, in a lot of respects, hasn't really begun his true Yankee career.
\r\n
\r\n\"I honestly have no idea what to expect,\" he said looking forward to his first full year in the pros. \"I know from talking to guys like Jeff Marquez and some other guys from other teams, they were saying that during the regular season you get more of a team-like feel rather than in Hawaii it's individual guys hanging out in individual groups.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not a team thing, but in the regular season I've been told it's a little more exciting during the games and not so dead in the dugouts. That's really the only thing I expect, maybe just a little bit of more of a team feel when I'm out there.\"
\r\n
\r\nStill a novice to the professional game, it is Kennedy's baseball intelligence, polish, and ability to make quick adjustments that has many Yankees insiders believing he will move quickly through the farm system, possibly even beginning his career in high-A Tampa this coming season.
\r\n
\r\n\"It doesn't matter where I play,\" he quickly admitted. \"No matter where you play, you're pitching to batters and not to your competition. Like if I end up in Charleston, I'm not going to be disappointed and pitched pissed-off or anything like that. My goals are to pitch to my ability and if they want to bring me up or bring me down, I can't let that change my emotions. I've got to pitch like I would if I were pitching in the big leagues.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2006

\r\n

\r\n Staten Island

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

\r\n 2.2

\r\n

2

\r\n

2

\r\n

2

\r\n

\r\n 0.00


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Kennedy doesn't light up the radar gun with mid-90's heat, but what he does have is incredible command of a four-seam fastball that consistently sits 88-92 MPH. He can locate his fastball in all four quadrants of the plate at will already and has hit as high as 94 MPH with his fastball in college. As mentioned above, the Yankees are working with him to incorporate a two-seam fastball to give batters another look. Because the pitch is still in its infancy stage, there is no variation in his two-seam velocity just yet.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. While Kennedy insists he doesn't have a 'best' pitch, the reality is his plus changeup stands above the rest among his offspeed offerings. It is arguably his best strikeout pitch at the current time and he's able to deceive batters with great motion and movement. Both his curveball and slider are quality Major League pitches already and both can serve as strikeout pitches, depending on the situation.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Kennedy is as competitive as they come. And while that helps give him a bulldog mentality on the mound, it is his innate ability to read batters' swings and pitch to their weaknesses that is quite uncanny. Throw in the fact he can throw four quality big league pitches with great control consistently, he keeps batters off-balance with the best of them. One of the more intelligent baseball players, he is also adept at making quick adjustments from batter to batter and from game to game. Despite not having power stuff, Kennedy is a very good strikeout pitcher. He averaged eleven strikeouts per nine innings over his college career because of his ability to consistently throw strikes and keep hitters guessing. Once he masters the two-seam fastball and begins to pitch a little more to contact, he'll be able to keep his pitch counts lower and have a positive influence on the bullpen.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Kennedy grew up idolizing Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina and style-wise, he compares favorably to both as an intelligent pitcher who knows how to mix in a wide array of big league pitches with great command. While it might be a hard task to duplicate their careers, Kennedy also compares very favorably to fellow Yankees farmhand Tyler Clippard. Like Clippard, there are other pitchers with better raw stuff, but not many can match his combination of quality stuff, poise, and command of the strike zone. He might not have the stuff of a frontline starting pitcher, but he's one of the safest bets to project as a middle-of-the-rotation type of starter at the big league level.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2009. Even with just two official professional innings to his credit, Kennedy could get to the big leagues quickly. Judging from his polish, all signs point towards him opening the year in the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees, much like Alan Horne did a year ago. If he can begin there, there's a strong possibility he could finish the season in Double-A. There's a slim chance he could reach the big leagues at some point in 2008, but the safer bet has him in the Bronx by 2009.
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