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.