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2023 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews: #47, Buddy Kennedy

A blistering start to the year proved a false dawn, despite good plate discipline.

Minnesota Twins v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

2023 Overview

  • Rating: 3.02
  • 2023 MLB Stats: .167/.310/.208 = .519 OPS (47 OPS+) in 10 games + 29 PA, 0.0 bWAR
  • Date of Birth: October 5, 1998
  • 2023 Salary: League minimum
  • 2024 Status: Currently on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster

Vote breakdown

2023 review

Clifton Lewis Kennedy, to give Buddy his driving license name, came to the D-backs in the 2017 draft, when he was picked in the fifth round. He reached the majors in 2022, appearing in 30 games with a line of .217/.287/.325 for a .613 OPS (74 OPS+), and playing mostly at second-base. That did include a spectacular first home-run, a grand-slam against the Twins, but that did not stop him from being taken off the 40-man roster in November. He did remain with the D-backs, and had an excellent spring campaign, batting .424 across eighteen games, with almost as many walks (6) as strikeouts (7). Among the D-backs with 40+ spring PAs, only Corbin Carroll had a higher OPS than Kennedy’s 1.131.

It wasn’t enough to get him on the Opening Day roster, and Buddy started the season down in Reno with the Aces. His good form continued there, batting .400 over 23 games in April, with more than twice as many walks as strikeouts (23:11) and a 1.225 OPS. But it came with an unsustainable .433 BABIP, and so it proved. Kennedy’s OPS dropped each month thereafter, reaching just .701 over fourteen games in July. He went more than two months and 38-games without a homer, which in the PCL is almost impressive. Still, after a three-hit game against the Salt Lake City Bees on August 11th, Kennedy was added to the 40-man squad in place of Kristian Robinson, and replaced Emmanuel Rivera on the active roster.

At the time of the call-up, Kennedy said he had “been hard at work on his mechanics and stance. He’s been working with coaches to stay consistent in the box. He utilized slow-motion video to better improve his swing path and how he holds his hands,” and added, “I’ve been working on myself, be more patient as a hitter, work the count, get on base for the team and score some runs, whenever I can.” Manager Torey Lovullo said the plan was to use the right-hander in a platoon with Jace Peterson at third. “We are looking for some ways to create some offense, get some run scoring opportunities going and push us in the right direction. Buddy will get this opportunity and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Not very far, turned out to be the answer. Buddy made seven starts, plus three appearances off the bench, but could muster only four hits in 24 at-bats, though he did draw four walks and a hit by pitch. But a feeble .208 slugging percentage was not what the team wanted from the hot corner, and on September 1st, the transaction was reversed. Rivera returned from Reno, having hit .304 with a 1.027 OPS there, and Kennedy returned to Triple-A. Lovullo said, “Look, Buddy was doing okay, I felt like he was swinging the bat well enough in Triple-A to get this opportunity. Maybe it was the inconsistent at-bats, but the approach and the results weren’t great.”

Worse was to follow a few days later, Buddy being designated for assignment on September 6, to make room on the 40-man roster for new catcher Selby Zavala. Three days later, he was claimed by the Oakland A’s, ending Kennedy’s time as a Diamondback. It was not the end of Kennedy’s transactions for the year, however. On October 25th, after being put on waivers by Oakland, Buddy was claimed by the St. Louis Cardinals - to the bemusement of some of their fans. It feels like Kennedy may remain a AAAA player, occasionally making it back to the major leagues, but rarely able to stay there for long. That said, he only turned 25 last month, making Kennedy just a few months older than, say, Blaze Alexander.