Results tagged ‘ ryan westmoreland ’

Post Hype Prospect – Casey Kelly – @IamCaseyKelly

Every once in a while an athlete so talented comes out of high school who has the natural ability to play two premium positions.  Often, those athletes are stars in multiple sports, whose natural talents and flashes of brilliance mask a lack of feel for playing baseball, with those athletes later failing to succeed at any level due to an ability to turn those physical tools into baseball playing ability.  Out of Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Florida, one of those athletes was the 2008 first round pick (#30 overall) of the Boston Red Sox, Casey Kelly.  Kelly was viewed as a top prospect both as a shortstop and a pitcher, along with being a good enough quarterback to get a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee.  Video of Kelly’s reaction to being drafted:

Kelly, who was named Mr. Baseball Florida for 2008, quickly signed with the Red Sox, agreeing to a $3 million signing bonus, the seventh largest in the 2008 draft class, behind only Buster Posey (#5/Giants), Tim Beckham (#1/Rays), Pedro Alvarez (#2/Pirates), Eric Hosmer (#3/Royals), Justin Smoak (#11/Rangers), and Brian Matusz (#4/Orioles).  Kelly was sent to the Rookie Level GCL Red Sox, where he played shortstop and hit poorly, putting up a 215/255/331 line in 36 games before being promoted to the Short Season A Lowell Spinners of the New York Penn League, where he played shortstop and hit well, putting up a 344/344/563 line.  Despite the poor showing, Kelly was still viewed as an elite prospect, with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus calling Kelly “the most talented two-way player available in the draft,” while raving about Kelly’s power potential, good defensive range and instincts, and plus-plus (70 on the 20-80 scale) arm.  Goldstein dinged Kelly for his tendency to chase pitches and generally unrefined game.  Goldstein ranked Kelly #6 in the Red Sox system.  Baseball America generally agreed, expressing similar concerns and ranked Kelly the #6 prospect in the Red Sox system, naming Kelly as the pitcher with the “Best Curveball” in the Red Sox’s organization.

For 2009, the Red Sox struck a deal with Kelly.  The Red Sox wanted Kelly to solely focus on being a pitcher while Kelly preferred to play every day and remain a shortstop.  Kelly would be a pitcher for approximately half of the season and then play shortstop for the duration of the season.  After the season, there would be a discussion between the Red Sox and Kelly regarding Kelly’s future based upon potential and results.  Kelly was assigned to the Greenville Drive of the A Level South Atlantic League, where he absolutely dominated, putting up a 1.12 ERA over 9 starts and 48.1 innings, striking out 39 batters while slowing 32 hits and walking only nine batters.  After being named to the South Atlantic League All-Star Team, Kelly was promoted to the High A Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League, Kelly continued to excel, putting up a 3.09 ERA over 8 starts and 46.2 innings, striking out 35 while allowing 33 hits and only seven walks.  At this point, Kelly became a shortstop, putting up a 214/290/464 line while back in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League and a putrid 224/305/313 line while playing for the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League.  During the 2009 season, Kelly also appeared in the Futures Game for the United States team, pitching one inning and allowing no base runners on nine pitches, six of them strikes.

After the 2009 season, Kelly drew rave reviews for his pitching and was named the Boston Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year.  Baseball America ranked Kelly the #2 prospect in the Red Sox’s system (behind Ryan Westmoreland) and the #24 prospect in all of Baseball.  Baseball America named Kelly the pitcher in the Red Sox’s organization with the “Best Fastball,” “Best Curveball,” “Best Changeup,” and “Best Control;” also naming Kelly the #6 prospect in the Carolina League and  the #2 prospect in the South Atlantic League.  Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein generally agreed with Baseball America, ranking Kelly the #2 prospect in the Red Sox’s system (behind Westmoreland) and the #30 prospect in all of Baseball.  Goldstein commented how advanced Kelly was as a pitcher, with “excellent sink and run” on an 89-93 mile per hour fastball, an already “plus” curveball, and a developing changeup that looked like it would become a plus offering.  Additionally, Goldstein noted Kelly’s athleticism and his “smooth, repeatable, and effortless” delivery.  After the season, it was agreed that Kelly would no longer play shortstop and would focus his energy on becoming a pitcher full-time.

Kelly pitching in the Futures Game:

In 2010, Kelly appeared in two spring training games for the Red Sox, putting up a 3.60 ERA across five innings in his first appearance against big league hitters.  Below is video of Kelly pitching against Northeastern University:

For the 2010 season, Kelly was aggressively assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs of the AA Eastern League, where Kelly struggled significantly, putting up a 5.31 ERA across 95 innings in 21 starts, averaging under 4.2 innings per start.  Kelly allowed 118 hits (11.2/9) and walked 35 batters (3.3/9) for a 1.611 WHIP while striking out 81 batters (7.7/9).  While Kelly struggled, he showed flashes of his enormous potential and had a few good outings, including a three-start run from July 11 through July 21, where he totaled 15 strikeouts in 17.2 innings, allowing 19 hits and only walking four batters while putting up a 2.55 ERA.  Kelly was shut down for the month of August after straining the Latissimus Dorsi in his back.

Source: Wikipedia

After the season, Kelly went to the Arizona Fall League to pick up some extra starts.  Kelly pitched 16 innings across four starts in the extremely hitter-friendly AFL, putting up a 6.75 ERA that was heavily colored by one particularly bad start on October 25.  Kelly put up a 2.57 ERA in his other three starts, showcasing his talent against much older competition.  After the season, Kelly was the key piece to Boston’s acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, going to San Diego along with Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson.

After the trade, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked Kelly the #1 prospect in the San Diego Padres’ organization and #48 in all of baseball, stating that Kelly “shows the potential for three average to plus pitches to go with plus command and control,” but that Kelly was “in over his head at Double-A” in 2010 and needs to be more aggressive with his pitching.  Baseball America Ranked Kelly the #1 prospect in the Padres’ organization and #31 prospect in baseball, naming Kelly the pitcher in the Padres’ organization with the “Best Curveball.”  Due to the timing of the trade, Kelly was also rated to have the “Best Curveball” in the Red Sox organization, as the Red Sox’s ranking came out prior to the trade, but the Padres’ ranking came out after the trade.

In 2011, Kelly was invited to the Padres’ spring training as a non-roster invitee with the expectation that he would open the season in the minor leagues after a view into the life of a Major Leaguer and a full welcoming to the San Diego Padres’ organization.  While in the Padres camp Kelly put up a respectable 3.00 ERA in 9 innings and 4 appearances, with one start.

Kelly was assigned to the San Antonio Missions for the 2011 season, back in AA but now in the Texas League.  Kelly’s results improved considerably, putting up a 3.98 ERA across 27 starts over 142.2 innings, striking out 105 (6.6/9) while allowing 153 hits (9.7/9) and 46 walks (2.9/9) for a 1.398 WHIP.  After the season, Baseball America ranked Kelly the #3 prospect in the Padres’ organization (behind Anthony Rizzo and Rymer Liriano) and the #76 prospect in baseball.  Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein echoed BA’s drop, ranking Kelly the #7 prospect in the Padres’ organization and the #78 prospect in baseball.  Goldstein expressed concern regarding Kelly’s lack of development and downgrading Kelly’s potential from a #2 or #3 to a #3 or a #4 in a rotation.

Back in the Padres’ spring training camp for 2012, Kelly looked like a new pitcher, putting up a 1.74 ERA across 20.2 innings while striking out 18 and only walking two, while drawing rave reviews  On March 14, Kelly threw three shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds, giving up five hits and striking out four without walking a single batter.  In his first two starts, Kelly threw five shutout innings without giving up a walk, fanning six.  Kelly’s performance continued when he was assigned to the Tuscon Padres, the Padres’ AAA affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.  In his first two starts, Kelly went six innings in both games.  In the first game, Kelly allowed seven hits and three runs, striking out five.  In his second start, Kelly allowed five hits and zero runs, striking out nine while hitting one batter.  Prior to his third start Kelly experienced soreness in his right elbow and traveled to San Diego to have Padres’ team doctors perform an examination and get an MRI.  Padres’ manager Bud Black said that there was no structural damage and Kelly merely had inflammation around the elbow.  The Padres were going to be cautious and give Kelly a few weeks of rest before starting a throwing program to see how the elbow would respond, before even thinking about returning Kelly to Tuscon.  As the North County Times has reported,  Kelly, who was shut down with arm problems after two starts at Double-A San Antonio, has resumed throwing.

So what is going to come of Kelly?  2012 had become a “make or break” year for Kelly, as he needed to finally justify his draft status and bonus at a level above A-ball, which he was finally doing before he hurt his elbow.  Currently resting his elbow, Kelly should start playing catch soon, but having no news for more than two weeks after being “close” is worrisome.   Kelly could be the perfect #2 pitcher to slot behind an ace (or be the ace on most teams), but an injury would set him back significantly, not to even discuss potentially ending his status as an elite prospect and moving him to the “let’s see where he is in two years” group.  As it looks, Kelly will be back in AAA shortly, with a possible September call-up in the works.  What do we expect?  I would say Kelly is a pretty good bet to be a rotation mainstay for a long time, but TINSTAAPP.

Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.


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