From Jim Baumbach -
During the most recent homestand for the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, the White Sox were represented by pro scout Bill Young. That the White Sox sent perhaps their most respected pro scout instead of one of their regional minor-league scouts indicates a more serious level of interest.
And there’s no question which players they’re interested in. Two of the Yankees’ best pitching prospects are currently with Trenton, righthanders Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy. Every time they pitch, the number of scouts in attendance doubles.
More than 10 teams have scouted each pitcher’s most recent starts, including the White Sox, Athletics, Rockies and Orioles, to name a few. The Orioles had major-leaguer-turned-scout Dave Hollins watch the Thunder when they were in Erie last week, and he was said to be extremely high on those pitchers.
Chamberlain receives more attention from scouts than Kennedy does because Chamberlain is a power pitcher; his fastball consistently hits the mid-90s. But there is a sentiment among the scouts that right now Chamberlain is destined to be a closer in the major leagues unless he develops his changeup into a better third pitch. That’s not out of a realm of possibilities because Chamberlain is only in his fourth season as a full-time pitcher. Only 21 years old, he is 6-0 with a 2.38 ERA in 10 starts this year split between Trenton and Class-A Tampa. He was the 41rst overall choice in the 2006 draft, a supplemental first-round pick.
Kennedy, the Yankees’ first-round pick last year, is considered a complete pitcher. His fastball tops out at 90, but those who have seen him pitch regularly say he controls it especially well. He also throws a changeup, slider and curveball, and that deep arsenal has helped him surge this year. He’s 9-2 with a 1.71 ERA in 15 games split between Trenton and Class-A Tampa. Opponents are hitting only .190 off him; he’s allowed just 55 hits and 28 walks in 84 innings.
So, is Ian Kennedy the next Scott McGregor in Yankees history and will Joba Chamberlain be the next Doug Drabek?