Cardinals' Prospects Review: Carson Kelly - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cardinals' Prospects Review: Carson Kelly

(Source: MiLB.com) (Source: MiLB.com)
ST. LOUIS, MO (WMC) -

Now that the minor league baseball season has ended, we’re continuing our look at how the St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospects (including Redbirds) performed in 2016.  The rankings and reports come from MLBPipeline.com.  Last time, we profiled the number 12 prospect, OF Nick Plummer.

11.  Carson Kelly C 
6’2”, 220 lbs. 
Bats-Right, Throws-Right.

Carson Kelly was originally drafted as a high school third baseman from Portland, Oregon in the second round of the 2012 Major League Draft. After his first full season, where he showed excellent power potential, he was moved to catcher.

As is common with high school draftees, his progress has been deliberate though the Cardinals’ system.

In that first partial pro season, at Johnson City of the Rookie-Level Appalachian League, he hit 10 doubles and nine homers in 213 at-bats, hitting .225.

In 2013, he played at both State College (NY/Penn League) and Peoria (Midwest League).  Combined, he hit .257, with 22 doubles and six home runs. He played all season in Peoria in 2014, hitting about the same but slightly improving his walk total and decreasing his strikeouts.

2015 saw Kelly assigned to Palm Beach of the Florida State League, where he seemed to hit a plateau, ending with his lowest batting average (.219) of his professional career.  Yet his power numbers were good, which caused him to be promoted to Springfield of the AA Texas League in 2016, where he blossomed in 64 games, hitting .287 and maintaining his power stroke. That led to a mid-season promotion to AAA Memphis, where he increased his batting average to .338, his slugging average to .431, and his OPS to .811.  He was one of the September call-ups to St. Louis.

Watching Kelly behind the plate now, he no longer looks like a converter infielder.  He has an excellent arm, is a natural leader, and works well with pitchers. Offensively, he’s had some struggles – he’ll likely never hit for a high average (his AAA performance notwithstanding), but the raw power that first attracted scouts has always shone through.  There are no catchers ranked higher than Kelly on MLBPipeline.com’s Cardinals Prospects list, so his path to the major leagues is clear.  Yadier Molina’s health will determine how much playing time Kelly gets in St. Louis, but for now he’s the heir apparent to the catcher’s job for the Cardinals.

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