- Full name Ian Patrick Kennedy
- Born 12/19/1984 in Huntington Beach, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Southern California
- Debut 09/01/2007
Drafted in the 1st round (21st overall) by the New York Yankees in 2006 (signed for $2,250,000).
View Draft ReportAt his best, Kennedy pitches off his fastball despite a short frame and shows a knack for making the big pitch. Above-average fastball command has allowed him to dominate college hitters (as evidenced by a 158-38 strikeout-walk ratio in 2005) and in two summers with Team USA. Kennedy has regressed in 2006, however, becoming much more hittable (.254 average against versus .201 last year) and vulnerable to big innings. Scouts report Kennedy's fastball sits more frequently from 86-89 mph, rather than 89-92 as in the past. Even when he has his velocity Kennedy has missed his spots, leaving balls up in the zone, and his changeup--a plus pitch in the past--has taken a step back as well. His slurvy breaking ball needs to be tighter and find the strike zone more often. Complicating matters, agent Scott Boras represents Kennedy. Scouts can't agree where he merits being picked but share the belief it will take the right fit of a scout who has followed him since he starred with Rockies prospect Ian Stewart in high school, and an organization comfortable with his size and adviser.
Organization Prospect Rankings
A high school teammate of Rockies third-base prospect Ian Stewart, Kennedy went to Southern California while Stewart signed out of high school. They both made their big league debuts in 2007 after Kennedy ranked third in the minors in ERA (1.91) in his first full season. Though he pitched well in three starts with the Yankees, they left him off their postseason roster because he had a minor back injury. That was a sort of blessing for Kennedy, who married former Trojans basketball player Allison Jaskowiak on an off day during the Division Series. Kennedy has mound presence and moxie to go with above-average major league command, and that helps all his pitches play up. His 88-92 mph fastball, his curveball and his slider (which he added since turning pro) all are average pitches. His plus changeup is his best offering, featuring late fade. He repeats his compact delivery like a machine. With only one above-average pitch, Kennedy has to hit his spots, but he usually does. At times his curve is too slow, dipping to 69-72 mph, and lacks sharpness. Some club officials compare him to Mike Mussina because of his bend-at-the-waist stretch delivery, but Kennedy lacks the plus stuff from Mussina had at the same age. Kennedy fits a No. 3 or No. 4 starter profile, and New York expects him to fulfill that role in 2008.
A high school teammate of Rockies prospect Ian Stewart, Kennedy was a 14th-round pick of the Cardinals in 2003 but didn't sign. He succeeded Anthony Reyes as Southern California's ace but was much better as a sophomore (12-3, 2.54) than as a junior (5-7, 3.90). Nonetheless, the Yankees drafted him 21st overall and signed him for an above-slot $2.25 million bonus. Kennedy has excellent command, particularly for a young pitcher, thanks to his consistent delivery. His command helps his average stuff play up. He spots his fastball, which sits in the upper 80s and touches 92 mph when he's right, and throws a sinking changeup from the same arm slot and with similar arm speed. Even when he's not at his best, Kennedy keeps the ball down and doesn't give up many homers. He's savvy and intelligent and pitches with a plan. All of Kennedy's pitches took a step back during the spring, and his command wasn't enough to compensate. His changeup's regression and his loopy curveball kept him from putting away hitters with two strikes. His curve in particular needs help, as he tends to get around on it, costing it depth. He needs to stay tall in his delivery, lest his small stature work against him. The Yankees believe in pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras and consider Kennedy the perfect project for him. If Contreras can help him tighten his curve and regain confidence, Kennedy will hop on the fast track. He's likely headed for high Class A in 2007.
Minor League Top Prospects
If this list were based entirely on pure stuff, Kennedy wouldn't make it. If it were totally dependent on performance, he could be No. 1. His results were no fluke, as he continued to succeed all the way up the ladder to New York. Kennedy doesn't have a plus pitch. His best offering is a changeup that would grade as a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his 89-91 mph fastball, his curveball and slider are all average. But he has well above-average command, and his feel for pitching and ability to locate all four pitches make them play up. FSL managers were extremely impressed by Kennedy's approach. He throws all four pitches in any count, he doesn't get rattled and he always seems to be a step ahead of hitters.
Kennedy won just five games at Southern California as a junior in 2006, but he joined Pacific-10 Conference rivals Tim Lincecum (Washington) and Brandon Morrow (California) by going from college to the big leagues in one year. In contrast to those two flamethrowers, Kennedy relies on command of a four-pitch mix to succeed, and he dominated three minor league levels on the way up. In the EL, Kennedy showed solid command of a plus changeup and three average pitches: an 88-91 mph fastball, a slow curveball and a slider. He did a much better job finishing hitters off than he did as a college junior, when his fastball flattened out and his changeup regressed. "His stuff was not overwhelming, but he pitches and he's poised," said an AL scout, who projected Kennedy as a future No. 3 or 4 starter. His feel and mound presence may allow him to become more than that, and he allowed just four earned runs in his first three starts with the Yankees.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Control in the New York Yankees in 2008