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Sam Kennedy is ready for Minnesota baseball

Sam Kennedy is ready for Minnesota baseball
Sam Kennedy is the 2021-22 Gatorade Minnesota Baseball Player of the Year after a great season with North St. Paul. (Courtesy: Dan Kennedy)

MINNEAPOLIS, (BVM) – One of the top baseball talents in the state of Minnesota is staying home for college and Sam Kennedy couldn’t be happier.

“It is a dream come true,” Kennedy said. “Many legends have come through this program like Dave Winfield, Paul Monitor, and more recently Max Meyer. Previous head coach Siebert and current head coach Anderson have both created strong, successful programs.”

Kennedy hopes to be one of those names that gets mentioned when people think about Gopher baseball. He’s been training for that for a long time. Right now, he is out in Seattle working with Driveline Baseball, a player development organization that focuses on hitting and pitching. While out there he has been improving the exit velocity off his bat and his pitching velocity. Kennedy has even made leaderboards that Driveline puts up to track all of their players’ numbers.

The velocity has paid off on the field, too. As a senior for North St. Paul this year, he led the team in wins (4), strikeouts (59), ERA (0.48), home runs (5) and hits (28). His ability to dominate on the mound and at the plate is what has made Kennedy a special prospect. He is already hitting 94 mph on his fastball and his .467 batting average means that pitchers struggle to strike him out. 

Sam Kennedy Minnesota baseball
Kennedy led the Polars in hits (28) and home runs (5) this season. (Courtesy: Dan Kennedy)

His two way talent earned him an invitation to the Area Code Games last August. Kennedy was one of the two Minnesota baseball players invited to the event and he played well against some of the best baseball players in the country. After the Area Code Games his success with the Polars this past season is what earned him the 2021-22 Gatorade Minnesota Baseball Player of the Year award.

“It was a reward I really didn’t expect,” Kennedy said. “I know there are a lot of very good players in Minnesota. It shows that sometimes there is a payoff or reward for all the hard work that baseball players put it in. I was really excited to receive the award.”

It’s only the most recent showing of hard work paying off. Prior to being named the best player in the state it was the attention from college coaches that suggested he was doing something right. As a freshman, he began receiving attention from colleges and realized he could have the opportunity to take his career beyond high school. 

The process continued and Minnesota baseball got involved. By the time he needed to make a decision, Kennedy had offers from USC, Indiana, Arizona, Pepperdine and GCU, but the Gophers won out. 

“I found out during the process that I really wanted to be a Gopher and play in state,” Kennedy said. “Coach Anderson and his staff welcomed me into the Gopher family.

Sam Kennedy Minnesota baseball
Kennedy signing his NLI to play baseball at the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy: Dan Kennedy)

“Coach Anderson made me feel comfortable and he explained the expectations he has for all of his players. Coach Anderson has a vision and a plan for his players and his team. I want to be part of that.” 

Keeping the best athletes in the state at home is a priority across all Minnesota athletics and Kennedy definitely helps with that goal. For Gopher baseball in particular, it will help them in the Big 10 because Kennedy is ready for the challenge.

“I love the competition against teams,” Kennedy said. “Baseball is the only team sport where the outcome is determined based on the competition between a pitcher and batter.”

It’s what first drew him to the position. Baseball is unique in the sense that it is a team sport but the initial action is always a one-on-one match. Kennedy loves it. 

“I like the challenge of preventing a hitter from succeeding and to make his at-bat uncomfortable,” Kennedy said. “Getting a batter out is pretty rewarding and it gets me pumped when I get a punchout.” 

But even before his love of pitching, Kennedy had a love for baseball. He played other sports, but the time he spent playing catch with his family made sure that baseball was always No. 1. Catch evolved into competition and a drive to be the best, but the love has always been there. 

Now the University of Minnesota incoming freshman will get the chance to go one-on-one with some of the best college players in the country while playing the sport he has always loved.

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