Peter Abraham’s fine LoHud Yankees Blog reports (as I’m sure others do) that Ian Kennedy will join Joba Chamberlain on the Yankees pitching staff. He’ll start Saturday, taking Mike Mussina’s place in the rotation as yet another sign that Southern California is the real pitching factory in the Pac-10, not Stanford.
That will make Kennedy the sixth pitcher from last year’s draft to reach the majors in 2007, joining Chamberlain, Brandon Morrow, Andrew Miller, Tim Lincecum and Joe Smith. So that’s three Pac-10 pitchers from last year (Morrow went to Cal, Lincecum to Washington) already in the major leaguesâ€”damn. He’ll also join former La Quinta High teammate Ian Stewart (Rockies) in the big leagues; Stewart of course signed out of high school in 2003, when he was drafted ninth overall, while Kennedy went 21st overall last year after a disappointing junior season for the Trojans.
He’s put that behind him, it’s fair to say. Kennedy got the most farm time of the ’06 draft group and is a serious candidate for Minor League Player of the Year, with perhaps the best year by any pitcher in the minors this season. He’s not just 12-3, 1.91, but the former Southern Cal ace has a .182 opponents batting average, has surrendered just six home runs and has 163 strikeouts in 146 innings overall. That includes 34 in 34 2/3 innings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Kennedy commands the fastball, which is the basic building block for pitching, and has improved on his good curveball as a Yankee, helping account for his fine season.
Now he rejoins Chamberlain, who said during the Futures Game that he and Kennedy have become “like brothers” after joining the Yankees in the same draft. They went to instructional league and Hawaii Winter Baseball together, and now will try to keep the Yankees’ 12-year playoff streak going together. Pretty amazing story for a couple of kids from the college beat.
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