Ian Kennedy Continues to Impress in Arizona Fall League

October 24, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

New York Yankees pitching prospect Ian Kennedy, limited to just four minor league starts in 2009 due to surgery to repair an aneurysm in his pitching arm, made his third start of the Arizona Fall League season on Saturday.


Pitching for the Surprise Rafters, Kennedy pitched four innings, allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out five.


Kennedy’s been described as sort of a “Greg Maddux lite,” a four-pitch pitcher whose fastball, if he airs it out, is barely major league average (92). But with three other major league-caliber pitches (curve, slider, change), Kennedy has enough stuff to keep hitters on their toes.


As everyone knows, the least important aspect of a fastball is velocity. Sure, 98 is better than 90, but movement is of much more importance than just pure heat. Look no further than Stephen Strasburg’s most recent start as a comparison.


For the season, Kennedy’s thrown 11.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs, walking just one and striking out 13, while posting a season ERA of 3.97. He’s averaged 61 pitches in his three starts with an impressive strike percentage of 64.8 percent.


Only a brief bout of inconsistent command with his breaking stuff and some shoddy defense during his second start is keeping his name off the league pitching leaders.


Offering further encouragement is Kennedy has been on a regular five-day rotation. He’s taken no time off because of the injury and has shown no signs of fatigue.


With the Fall League having a five innings cap per start, he may not be stretched sufficiently so as to make up for the innings lost during the season. Kennedy pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico after the 2008 season and made an impression there as well; one could assume he would have no trouble finding a roster spot there if the Yankees so choose.


The Yanks will have some roster decisions to make heading towards 2010, and for the first time in recent memory, most of those decisions are not pitching related. Only Andy Pettitte is a free agent from the major league roster and would hardly be deemed irreplaceable at this point in his career.


With CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes the only locks for next year’s rotation, (yes, sports fans, Joba Chamberlain’s a reliever from now on), there are two spots available for Kennedy to fill.


Sure, there’s some quality pitching available, but with the exception of Josh Beckett, no one who could conceivably bump CC or A.J. out of the top two spots—and even the Yanks wouldn’t pay a Kevin Millwood type $12 million a season to anchor the fourth spot in the rotation.


I’ve always been an Ian Kennedy fan. It takes talent to get hitters out with a below average fastball. Using your brains to be successful, as Greg Maddux himself has proven, takes a lot more guts and confidence than just rearing back and throwing 97 mph cheese.


I’m rooting for the kid, and I hope you are as well.


Shame on you if not.  

Read more New York Yankees news on BleacherReport.com

readers comments

Yankee Tickets

Yankee Tickets

Shop Yankee

Shop Yankee