Yankees Draft Report
Fool Me Once
NEW YORK--One year after passing on a college pitcher (Craig Hansen
favor of a high school shortstop (C.J. Henry
) with their first pick,
the Yankees dipped into the college pitching pool with the 21st pick in
the draft, selecting USC righthander Ian Kennedy
A year ago the Yankees were concerned about getting into a lengthy
contract negotiation with Hansen, a St. John's product who was being
advised by Scott Boras
, who has a history of keeping clients out until
late in the summer or not getting them signed at all. So Hansen went to
the Red Sox and Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer
for the move. The criticism increased when Hansen reached the big
leagues last year.
This time, Oppenheimer, a former batterymate of Randy Johnson's
at USC, didn't mind that Kennedy is being advised by Boras and took the righthander, whose junior year numbers weren't eye-popping.
Selected by the Cardinals in the 14th round of the 2003 draft, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Kennedy led the Trojans with 102 strikeouts and went 5-7, 3.90 in 16 games (15 starts). In 102 innings, Kennedy allowed 100 hits and walked 36.
Considering the preseason All-American was a combined 19-5, 2.70 with 278 strikeouts in 210 innings in his first two years at USC, his junior year was disappointing.
Some scouts believe he lost velocity on his fastball, which was clocked between 88-92 mph. Others were impressed by his aggressive pitching style and sharp curve.
"If you take a look at who caught him, that has a little bit to do with it," said Oppenheimer when asked to explain the drop in velocity. "We scouted every game this guy pitched this year. In terms of his stuff, we're still very happy with him."
The 21-year-old Kennedy said he's eager to sign a deal and report to the minor leagues. Mike Gillespie
, his coach at USC who recently retired, believes Kennedy could be in the majors in two or three years.
"He's a bright, instinctual competitor," Gillespie said. "He's a gamer. He likes it when it gets tough. He was always durable for us. He never had an injury, never missed a turn and he pitched deep into games."YANKEE DOODLES
• The Yankees went pitching heavy on the first day of the draft, taking pitchers with their first three picks and eight of their first 10.
• With their second pick (41st overall), the Yankees grabbed a pitcher whose stock plummeted in recent months. Nebraska righthander Joba Chamberlain
was projected as a top 10 pick in early March but developed tendinitis in his pitching arm. He went 6-5, 3.93 for the Cornhuskers this season.