Ian Kennedy Happy with AFL Performance

Ian Kennedy was once as highly touted a prospect as Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, but injuries derailed his 2009 season and he was left off the ride as the Yankees went on to win the World Series, but he has been making up for lost time pitching in the Arizona Fall League and as as Danny Wild of MLB.com reports, he’s quite happy with his performance.

Here are some Kennedy quotes from the article:

On development of a 2-seamer: “If you watch some of the better guys, some of the best pitchers — Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina — they all throw two-seamers,” said Kennedy, who pitched alongside both starters in 2008. “You look at the positives and I’ve been watching those guys do it for a long time.”

“Today was probably the best I’ve thrown my two-seamer. I have lot more confidence with it,” said Kennedy. “I’ve always said I needed to work on it before and now I’ve got a real solid chance to see the results. It’s really hard during the season, you’re trying to compete.”

He’s also developing a cut fastball: “The first couple times around, I was throwing a lot of two-seamers, but I also threw my cutter a lot more today,” he said. “Andy’s best pitch is a cutter, and watching him throw a two-seamer — it’s a really good pitch, it allows me to utilize other pitches. I don’t like to overthrow my four-seamer, but I feel confident I can put that where I want. But if you watch some of the best pitchers, they already have a two-seamer.”

On returning from aneurysm surgery: “Everything health-wise is back to normal,” said the 24-year-old. “It was real nice to feel good after surgery, and all the way through the rehab, I’ve had no health issues, so it’s good,” he said. “My surgeries and everything else went well.”

On his future plans within the organization: “I’ll basically do whatever they tell me, but they haven’t talked about it,” Kennedy said of his role in 2010. “I’ll ask them, but we didn’t talk about it a whole lot when I was up there. I know my innings were down this year, so it depends what they want to do.”

On watching the Yankees win the World Series: “It was pretty exciting, it’s too bad I didn’t get to be there. But, you know, it’s pretty exciting to watch,” he said. “I got to play in one game and experience the clinching, so it was pretty cool.”

From what it sounds like, Kennedy has put a lot of emphasis on learning from the Yankees veterans. That seems to me like a very good thing especially considering there are two other guys, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, who know a thing or two about pitching who he really hasn’t worked with.

Also, if you remember back to 2008. When he struggled a lot of the time his issues were with pitches that were either too straight or he was trying to be too fine. So his emphasis on a two-seamer makes sense as he needs a pitch that shows more movement to it.

There is also his quote, “I needed to work on it before and now I’ve got a real solid chance to see the results. It’s really hard during the season, you’re trying to compete,” is also encouraging. To me it says two things, one, that he’s really putting an effort into not just pitching, but improving as well. And two, that his overall line this fall, 7 games, 2-1 record, 4.25 ERA, 28 strikeouts and 5 walks over 29.2 innings are more like spring training numbers than a real indication of how he’s done down in the desert.

Keep an eye on him, he’s a wildcard in 2010. The Yankees don’t have a role for him yet, but he could be next year’s Phil Hughes.

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