Photo courtesy: Lynn University Athletics
Last night the Eastern League’s best met at New Britain Stadium, home of the Rock Cats, to partake in the Eastern League All-Star Classic. One of those All-Stars was Yankees’ prospect Tommy Kahnle.
Kahnle’s journey to the All-Star Classic didn’t pan out exactly as planned. Finishing high school, the Latham, N.Y., native was planning on attending Conference USA’s Florida Atlantic University, but due to a missed deadline Kahnle was unable to enroll.
“I wanted to play baseball in the south,” Kahnle said, mentioning the region’s reputation for good college baseball.
He did, opting to play Division II baseball at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., a member of the lesser-known Sunshine State Conference.
The reliever, who started the 2013 season ranked as the Yankees’ 20th prospect, quickly became a Lynn standout. In 2009 Kahnle helped lead the Fighting Knights to the NCAA Division II national championship, throwing over 12 scoreless innings in the postseason.
“There aren’t really words to describe it, but winning the national championship is probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever had to be a part of,” said Kahnle.
The next season the right-hander threw the third no-hitter in Lynn University history. Later that year Kahnle was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, the highest draft pick in program history.
“It’s pretty cool and an honor to be a member of the Yankees organization,” said Kahnle. “You have to have good judgment because you’re putting yourself out there.”
Though the New Yorker didn’t grow up a fan of the hometown team, rooting for the Cincinnati Reds because of his father, there were no ambivalent emotions on draft day.
“I was really excited because I wanted to continue my career forward going into pro ball,” said the righty.
Kahnle’s experiences and home in the Yankees’ organization have given him a good shot of continuing even farther forward, past Double A ball.
This spring, Kahnle returned to the south to attend Yankees’ Spring Training in Tampa, Fla. He pitched three innings over three games, allowing two hits and no runs while striking out two. Freddy Galvis, who has spent time with the Phillies and their Triple A affiliate Lehigh Valley this season, went down swinging against Kahnle. Ten-year veteran and current Phillie Humberto Quintero was caught looking at the third strike from the reliever.
So far this season Kahnle has pitched 37 innings with the Thunder in 30 appearances. He has 1-2 record with 10 saves and a 2.65 ERA.
Many MLB stars have passed through Trenton. The Thunder have produced Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes, and multiple others. Kahnle hopes to have his name added to that list.
“Ever since I was a little kid I always wanted to be a professional baseball player,” he said.
He is on his way to that dream.