Saturday, August 25, 2012

Casey Kelly

The Padres aren't allowing Adrian Gonzalez and the Dodgers to have all the fun.

On Monday, the Padres will unveil their top pitching prospect, Casey Kelly, who will start against the Braves at Petco Park. You'll recall, the Padres acquired Kelly in the Gonzalez trade two offseasons ago.

Kelly, 22, will be making his major league debut when he confronts Chipper Jones and friends.

The right-hander began the season with Triple-A Tucson. In his second outing, he suffered an elbow strain that would sideline him for three months. In a story for Baseball America, I wrote at length about the Padres' concerns that Kelly threw far too many curveballs in that game. At the time, Kelly was humming his fastball in the mid-90s.

A nerve irritation in his elbow prolonged Kelly's time on the disabled list.

Kelly began his comeback in the Arizona rookie league. He since has made three starts with Double-A San Antonio. Scouts say he has two pitches that are better than average, a fastball and curveball, and his other offspeed pitches can be above average. As would be expected of a player who was started his professional career as a shortstop, Kelly, 6' 3" and 195 pounds, earns high grades for his athleticism.

For the season, he has 39 strikeouts against only three walks over eight games and 37.2 innings.

Kelly's major league debut should be an unforgettable birthday gift for the pitcher's father, Pat Kelly, who will turn 57 on Monday. Pat manages the Reds' rookie-league affiliate in Billings, Montana. A catcher in his playing days, Pat spent 13 years in the minor leagues. He reached the big leagues with Toronto in 1980. In his major league career, Pat appeared in three games, all with the Blue Jays. The California native, a third-round selection of the Angels, has managed for 22 minor league seasons. At one time, he managed in the Padres' system.


  1. This is BIG NEWS!

    Seems potentially premature in 2 ways ... why not wait until September? Aren't there benefits to waiting until September? ... and it sure seems like he doesn't have many innings pitched since his recovery ...

    Expectations are high ... I hope this is the beginning of a good run for him and the Padres!

  2. Howard-I think the only usual benefit would be either less stressful innings, or simply getting the arbitration clock back a year (look at the Headley Super 2 article as an example). We're clearly past the super 2 call up date issue and given the lack of innings, I think they are going to be looking for Kelly to put in more IP over the next month than any other pitcher in the organization. Personally, I think it's probably a good move. Better to get an idea on the big league what you have in Kelly now and then be able to plan your off season accordingly.

  3. Howard, Byrnes told me SDP originally wanted to have Kelly make one more start in Double-A but decided he's ready to go. Byrnes didn't mention it, but this allowed him to debut in Petco instead of Coors and sets him up to start 3 of 4 in Petco if the SDP choose to go that route. I've always said, there's no better place than PNP for a pitcher to get a foothold on his career. Not that big of a deal where he pitches, but worth considering. Remember, the SDP believe CK may have hurt his elbow by going curveball-crazy in trying to pitch out of jams in Triple-A. I'm sure they talked all of that out. Nonetheless, the smoother the conditions, the better, I guess.

  4. TK - thanks for reply ... and HORRAY for Casey Kelly!

  5. Tom-Does the injury also mean they are more inclined to leave top pitching prospects in AA rather than subject them to the conditions in AAA?

  6. Mark, I think they take it case by case, but the helium conditions in Tucson definitely are taken into consideration.