Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kahnle signs with Yankees

Tommy Kahnle throws a pitch for the South Troy Dodgers during the summer of 2008. (Photo by Mike McMahon - The Record).

LATHAM — Tommy Kahnle’s travels on the road to professional baseball made a brief pit stop in the Capital Region Thursday.

Kahnle, a right handed pitcher who was drafted in the fifth round of the Major League First Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees in early June, spent most of this summer on Cape Cod. He pitched for the Brewster Whitecaps and the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League, hoping to improve his case for signing a professional contract.

This week, he did just that, reaching an agreement with the Yankees. Kahnle, who spoke with The Record Thursday via telephone, chose not to disclose the terms of the deal.

Kahnle stopped home on his way back from Cape Cod Thursday and will head to Staten Island Friday to report to the Yankees’ short season Class A team in the New York-Penn League. He will take a physical Monday and plans to be in uniform in the Staten Island bullpen that night.

Kahnle’s first professional homecoming will happen in two weeks when the Staten Island Yankees come to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy for a three-game set against the Tri-City ValleyCats on August 13-15.

“It’s going to be cool playing in my hometown,” said Kahnle. “I grew up watching the ValleyCats.”

Kahnle made 13 appearances on the Cape this summer with Brewster and Bourne, striking out 14 and walking nine in nine innings. He made three saves for Brewster.

A former three-sport star at Shaker High School, Kahnle spent his summers playing for the South Troy Dodgers, whose home field is just a hop, skip and a jump from Bruno Stadium.

He then attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., where as a freshman, he served as the team’s closer during its playoff run and threw the pitch for the final out in the NCAA Division II championship game victory over Emporia State.

Growing up as an only child, Kahnle started playing baseball when he was five years old and always dreamed of making it as a professional baseball player. Still, he had to thrive at Lynn to really believe he had a chance at the professional level.

“It was when I was a freshman in college when I realized it was possible,” he said.

Kahnle finished his freshman year with a 7-4 record, five saves and a 4.54 ERA in 20 appearances, 13 of which were starts.

A 6-foot, 225-pound flamethrower, Kahnle’s fastball has been clocked consistently in the mid 90 miles-per-hour range and has maxed out at 98.

Lynn used him as a starter during his sophomore season this spring, in which he finished with a 2-7 record and a 5.06 ERA in 74 and two thirds innings pitched.

Scouts, however, like his fastball in short-term bursts, feeling his inconsistency with the changeup and curveball limits his effectiveness as a starter.

“All the scouts have profiled me as a reliever,” Kahnle said. “I expect to be in the bullpen. That’s what I’m told.”

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