Drafted: First Round, 2008 (Sarasota, FL)
Height: 6′3″; Weight: 195 lbs
Born: Oct. 4, 1989
It seems pre-ordained. It seems like only a matter of time before pitcher Casey Kelly develops into a star. When the Red Sox talk trade with other major league clubs, opposing GMs ask Theo Epstein to include the 20-year-old right-hander in the deal. Epstein declines and declares Kelly untouchable. He and Ryan Westmoreland appear to be the ONLY prospects who cannot be had in a deal. Period.
End of discussion. (Unless the guy coming back is Adrian Gonzalez??)
Twenty months ago, Kelly was the Red Sox first round pick (30th overall). Baseball people say he fell that low in the draft due to the fact that he had been offered a scholarship to play football (QB) and baseball (SS) at the University of Tennessee, and because they KNEW it would take a king’s ransom to convince Kelly to forego college. The Red Sox determined he was the best high school pitcher in the 2008 draft, so they picked him and gave him three million reasons to go pro.
He signed because of the money, and because the Red Sox promised he could both pitch and play shortstop in the minor leagues—something he desperately wanted to do. The agreement between the player and club was that he’d have to choose one or the other at the end of last season. And when it came time to select which position he would pursue, the choice was clear. He would pitch.
He was chosen to pitch in the MLB Futures Game last summer, where he needed just nine pitches to get through a perfect inning of work. He played shortstop in the second half of the year, hitting just .224 in A-ball. Experiment over.
He has three “plus” pitches (fastball, curve, and changeup) and an uncanny presence on the mound for a 20-year-old prospect. His fastball sits in the low-90s, and he can cut it or sink it with command to both sides of the plate. He throws his changeup with the same arm speed as the fastball. His 12-to-six curveball is already a plus pitch and is still improving...he just needs to improve his command with it.
He has a fluid, athletic delivery. His fastball isn’t overpowering, but it is expected that as he matures physically and perfects his mechanics (which he should do now that he is concentrating on pitching) he will add a couple mph to his fastball.
He will start the season in the minor leagues. Get your tickets for Portland and Manchester (NH Fisher Cats) early in the year...he could be in Pawtcuket by mid-season.
For articles on the Red Sox other top prospects, click here.