Kennedy Adjusting Well

After making just one start for Staten Island last season, Ian Kennedy really just began his professional career this year. Combining for a 9-2 record and a 1.71 ERA in stops between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, to say he has been adjusting well might be an understatement.

"I'm really happy the way things are going," Ian Kennedy said of his first professional season, "just by doing well in the Florida State League and working some things out with my offspeed pitches, two-seam, and mechanics-wise, there's a lot of things I've been working on."

"After about the sixth start in Tampa, I kind of figured things out with my mechanics. I started messing around more with my sinker - my two-seamer - so I'm really happy with the way things are going. Now I'm here in Trenton and I'm happy with my progress here."

Kennedy went a sizzling 6-1 with a league-leading 1.29 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 63 innings for the Tampa Yankees before being promoted to Trenton on June 5th - just 12 games into his professional career.

"No," he said when asked if he expected this kind of advancement in his career, "you kind of hope to do well and hopefully they [the Yankees] have the same idea as you do to move you up quick. You really don't have any control over that though. Just by doing well is all I can control and I'm happy they have me on the track they've got me on now."

Known as a control artist with his fastball who featured a plus changeup when the Yankees selected him in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Kennedy was encharged with the task of developing a two-seam fastball into his repertoire during Spring Training and it remained a priority for him in the Florida State League this season.

"It took a real long time to get comfortable with one," he said of throwing a two-seamer. "As soon as I would get comfortable with one, I couldn't find it one day. A lot of times I won't throw it because I'm more confident throwing a four-seam where I want it, rather than sometimes guessing where it'll be, whether it's low out of the zone or if it hangs right over the strike zone and gets hit for a base hit, which hasn't happened too much but in Hawaii it would get hit."

"Just talking to Alan Horne, he was showing me his two-seamer. I actually like it. It drops a lot more and it's not so much side-to-side movement, it's more up and down like a true sinker. I seem really comfortable with it and I have more command of it. Where it used to fall out of the zone, now I can throw it and figure out where it's going to be."

Not only has Kennedy been focusing on incorporating more sinking two-seamers into his arsenal, but he has also been working on better command of his curveball, which can be a plus pitch for him at times.

"The curveball is totally different from any other pitch," said Kennedy. "Like your fastball and changeup are pretty much the same with the arm motion, same release point, and everything else. The curveball is a totally different way to throw. The slider is the same way as a fastball. I think for every guy, you've got to work on your curveball mostly, if you have a slider and a curve."

"I feel if I have it, my slider is always going to be there," he said of his curveball. "That's why I have been working on my curveball, not just to throw it down and away to a righty, but also back-dooring it and bouncing it whenever I want to. The last couple of weeks here, I've been real comfortable with it. I've been throwing it a lot more, and as I do it more and more in the game, I feel more comfortable throwing it for strikes."

Spotting his curveball with more regularity this season, Kennedy says he is comfortable throwing it in various situations and it has become a better weapon for him in the big spots.

"I guess it depends on the team," he said if he throws it more as a show-me pitch or a strikeout pitch, "or who I am facing in the order. Like [Saturday, June 16th] I threw a lot of fastballs for strikeouts. Sometimes I wanted to throw the curveball but the fastball was the right pitch."

"A couple of times in Tampa I would mix it in for a strikeout pitch. In college where it was more of a strikeout pitch, now I can throw it back-door or bounce it. I'm getting a lot more command with it. It's a lot better."

While he is making all the necessary adjustments to his two-seam fastball and his curveball this season, Kennedy has experienced so much success because of the impeccable command he possesses with his four-seam fastball.

"It's always been 89-91 MPH, just right around there," he said of his fastball. "As I started changing my mechanics, it went up a little bit because I wasn't drifting so much to the plate and let my arm catch up. It's allowing me to get on top of pitches and a little more life, a little more jump to it."

"I don't know, I can't explain it. It's bumped up a little bit," he said of his velocity. "90-93, most games around 89-91 MPH. There's only been a handful of games where it's bumped up to 93. Mostly, it's consistently been around 90-92 MPH and that's where I was in college."

"In college, when my velocity dropped down, mechanically my elbow was dropping down and just naturally flattening my ball and it wasn't as hard. I didn't have the life on it either. I think that was the main thing in college when you saw my velo drop."

While 90-92 MPH is still considered average velocity for a big league fastball, it doesn't compare with the harder fastballs in the organization but yet he continues to baffle hitters with his heater, even at the Double-A level.

"Honestly, I have no idea," Kennedy said when asked why he has so much success with his fastball. "I really don't ask what my velocity is. I really don't even know. Basically I am what I am, 89-92."

"I let the hitters tell me how hard I'm throwing. They do take bad hacks at it, but all I try to do is command it. I try to hit my spot and if I hit my spot, usually they end up swinging and missing or they take it and it's right on the black. I would just say command is a big thing."

Relying on fastball command and having an array of offspeed pitches in his repertoire, Kennedy has drawn comparisons to Mike Mussina as a result. But also like Mussina, he too brings himself into the stretch position by crouching over and bringing himself upright very deliberately.

"Actually I was messing around in college," he said of having the Mussina-like stretch position. "I have the split-change and it was always real hard for me to get to my curveball. I throw a knuckle curveball. I felt like I always gave it away because I kept digging into my glove."

"I was just messing around one day during BP, just bending down I was like, 'this is so much easier getting to this curveball'. After a couple of weeks it finally hit me that Mike Mussina did it. I didn't even realize it but he is one of the guys I idolize. It's kind of corny but it's the only way I can justify it, trying to get my curveball. It just buys me more time."

Getting to the Double-A level so quickly, and even experiencing some immediate success at the higher level, it still hasn't hit home with him that he is inching his way closer to the big leagues.

"Not really because I know there's no chance, at least not this year, maybe not even next year," he said of getting to the big leagues. "Of course that's a goal, but it's really cool to see guys are getting up that fast. I mean, Chase [Wright] was in the Florida State League last year and here [in Trenton] this year. And 'Clip' [Tyler Clippard] was here last year."

"It's really cool to see those guys get the experience where they're drafted by the Yankees and get to play for the big league Yankees. Yeah, it makes you want to do a little better so you can pitch in the Bronx."

Even with making quick adjustments in his first pro season and having great immediate success, Kennedy still realizes baseball is a game of adjusments and he's not done making changes to his game.

"I would like not to go so deep into counts and get later into the games," Kennedy listed as one of his goals for the remainder of the season. "The pitch count can be 80 pitches but I could still go six or seven innings with that pitch count. Just be more efficient with pitches. I would like to command more of my pitches and not nit-pick so much. I just want to be more efficient and get later into games."

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n\"I'm really happy the way things are going,\" Ian Kennedy said of his first professional season, \"just by doing well in the Florida State League and working some things out with my offspeed pitches, two-seam, and mechanics-wise, there's a lot of things I've been working on.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"After about the sixth start in Tampa, I kind of figured things out with my mechanics. I started messing around more with my sinker - my two-seamer - so I'm really happy with the way things are going. Now I'm here in Trenton and I'm happy with my progress here.\"
\r\n
\r\nKennedy went a sizzling 6-1 with a league-leading 1.29 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 63 innings for the Tampa Yankees before being promoted to Trenton on June 5th - just 12 games into his professional career.
\r\n
\r\n\"No,\" he said when asked if he expected this kind of advancement in his career, \"you kind of hope to do well and hopefully they [the Yankees] have the same idea as you do to move you up quick. You really don't have any control over that though. Just by doing well is all I can control and I'm happy they have me on the track they've got me on now.\"
\r\n
\r\nKnown as a control artist with his fastball who featured a plus changeup when the Yankees selected him in the first round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Kennedy was encharged with the task of developing a two-seam fastball into his repertoire during Spring Training and it remained a priority for him in the Florida State League this season.
\r\n
\r\n\"It took a real long time to get comfortable with one,\" he said of throwing a two-seamer. \"As soon as I would get comfortable with one, I couldn't find it one day. A lot of times I won't throw it because I'm more confident throwing a four-seam where I want it, rather than sometimes guessing where it'll be, whether it's low out of the zone or if it hangs right over the strike zone and gets hit for a base hit, which hasn't happened too much but in Hawaii it would get hit.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Just talking to Alan Horne, he was showing me his two-seamer. I actually like it. It drops a lot more and it's not so much side-to-side movement, it's more up and down like a true sinker. I seem really comfortable with it and I have more command of it. Where it used to fall out of the zone, now I can throw it and figure out where it's going to be.\"
\r\n
\r\nNot only has Kennedy been focusing on incorporating more sinking two-seamers into his arsenal, but he has also been working on better command of his curveball, which can be a plus pitch for him at times.
\r\n
\r\n\"The curveball is totally different from any other pitch,\" said Kennedy. \"Like your fastball and changeup are pretty much the same with the arm motion, same release point, and everything else. The curveball is a totally different way to throw. The slider is the same way as a fastball. I think for every guy, you've got to work on your curveball mostly, if you have a slider and a curve.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel if I have it, my slider is always going to be there,\" he said of his curveball. \"That's why I have been working on my curveball, not just to throw it down and away to a righty, but also back-dooring it and bouncing it whenever I want to. The last couple of weeks here, I've been real comfortable with it. I've been throwing it a lot more, and as I do it more and more in the game, I feel more comfortable throwing it for strikes.\"
\r\n
\r\nSpotting his curveball with more regularity this season, Kennedy says he is comfortable throwing it in various situations and it has become a better weapon for him in the big spots.
\r\n
\r\n\"I guess it depends on the team,\" he said if he throws it more as a show-me pitch or a strikeout pitch, \"or who I am facing in the order. Like [Saturday, June 16th] I threw a lot of fastballs for strikeouts. Sometimes I wanted to throw the curveball but the fastball was the right pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"A couple of times in Tampa I would mix it in for a strikeout pitch. In college where it was more of a strikeout pitch, now I can throw it back-door or bounce it. I'm getting a lot more command with it. It's a lot better.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile he is making all the necessary adjustments to his two-seam fastball and his curveball this season, Kennedy has experienced so much success because of the impeccable command he possesses with his four-seam fastball.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's always been 89-91 MPH, just right around there,\" he said of his fastball. \"As I started changing my mechanics, it went up a little bit because I wasn't drifting so much to the plate and let my arm catch up. It's allowing me to get on top of pitches and a little more life, a little more jump to it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't know, I can't explain it. It's bumped up a little bit,\" he said of his velocity. \"90-93, most games around 89-91 MPH. There's only been a handful of games where it's bumped up to 93. Mostly, it's consistently been around 90-92 MPH and that's where I was in college.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"In college, when my velocity dropped down, mechanically my elbow was dropping down and just naturally flattening my ball and it wasn't as hard. I didn't have the life on it either. I think that was the main thing in college when you saw my velo drop.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile 90-92 MPH is still considered average velocity for a big league fastball, it doesn't compare with the harder fastballs in the organization but yet he continues to baffle hitters with his heater, even at the Double-A level.
\r\n
\r\n\"Honestly, I have no idea,\" Kennedy said when asked why he has so much success with his fastball. \"I really don't ask what my velocity is. I really don't even know. Basically I am what I am, 89-92.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I let the hitters tell me how hard I'm throwing. They do take bad hacks at it, but all I try to do is command it. I try to hit my spot and if I hit my spot, usually they end up swinging and missing or they take it and it's right on the black. I would just say command is a big thing.\"
\r\n
\r\nRelying on fastball command and having an array of offspeed pitches in his repertoire, Kennedy has drawn comparisons to Mike Mussina as a result. But also like Mussina, he too brings himself into the stretch position by crouching over and bringing himself upright very deliberately.
\r\n
\r\n\"Actually I was messing around in college,\" he said of having the Mussina-like stretch position. \"I have the split-change and it was always real hard for me to get to my curveball. I throw a knuckle curveball. I felt like I always gave it away because I kept digging into my glove.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I was just messing around one day during BP, just bending down I was like, 'this is so much easier getting to this curveball'. After a couple of weeks it finally hit me that Mike Mussina did it. I didn't even realize it but he is one of the guys I idolize. It's kind of corny but it's the only way I can justify it, trying to get my curveball. It just buys me more time.\"
\r\n
\r\nGetting to the Double-A level so quickly, and even experiencing some immediate success at the higher level, it still hasn't hit home with him that he is inching his way closer to the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"Not really because I know there's no chance, at least not this year, maybe not even next year,\" he said of getting to the big leagues. \"Of course that's a goal, but it's really cool to see guys are getting up that fast. I mean, Chase [Wright] was in the Florida State League last year and here [in Trenton] this year. And 'Clip' [Tyler Clippard] was here last year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It's really cool to see those guys get the experience where they're drafted by the Yankees and get to play for the big league Yankees. Yeah, it makes you want to do a little better so you can pitch in the Bronx.\"
\r\n
\r\nEven with making quick adjustments in his first pro season and having great immediate success, Kennedy still realizes baseball is a game of adjusments and he's not done making changes to his game.
\r\n
\r\n\"I would like not to go so deep into counts and get later into the games,\" Kennedy listed as one of his goals for the remainder of the season. \"The pitch count can be 80 pitches but I could still go six or seven innings with that pitch count. Just be more efficient with pitches. I would like to command more of my pitches and not nit-pick so much. I just want to be more efficient and get later into games.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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