FanPost

Ty Kelly - Newest Cardinal

I realize most of this has been discussed here in main threads; however, I have been told I should go ahead and put all of my writings on the Cardinals in the Fanposts section...so here goes.

After the trade of Sam Gavaglio to the Mariners, Ty Kelly is the newest Cardinals' prospect. The term "prospect" needs to be used like when it is used on players like Thomas Pham, Xavier Scruggs, or Mike O'Neill of the Cardinals or Johnny Giavotella or Whit Merrifield of the Royals. Kelly is a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing 3B/2B/LF/RF who is entering his 26 season next year.

Kelly has yet to play in a major league game and turned 26 in July. He is the definition of a AAAA player at the moment. He has proven too good for AAA, but really at one thing. His skill is getting on base. He reminds me of Matt Carpenter or Greg Garcia in that way. Let's rewind a little.

Ty Kelly was drafted out of a California high school in the 2009 draft. He started his career in the Orioles' organization and played in 61 games that first partial season. He hit .265/.357/.310/.667 with 3 steals - playing 41 games at third base and 14 games at second base in Low A ball right out of high school. You can see simply from those statistics that speed is not his game, nor was the super high average or power. He simply got on base, much thanks to a 12.2% BB rate. He only struck out 10.7% of the time that year as well.

Zoom a little forward to A ball in 2010 and 2011. In 2 seasons and over 1,100 PA there, Kelly hit .266/.360/.350/.710. Again, very little power, and only 16 stolen bases (to 8 caught stealing). He played mostly third base there, some second base, then a little RF/LF sprinkled in along with a game at first and short. 2010 showed the first time he slugged higher than his on base percentage and 2011 saw him hit .274. However, neither of those coincided.

Then in 2012, he had a breakout season. He went to High A for 76 games, AA for 46 games, then AAA for 11 games. He hit .327/.425/.467/.892 with 11 homers. The huge OBP was built on the back of a 14.1% BB rate and a BIBIP over .350 was helped by the low 12.9% K rate.

In 2013, he played part of the season with Seattle and part with Baltimore. He got traded from Baltimore for Eric Thames. At the time, he was ranked the #19 prospect in the O's organization. He was no longer listed - at least by MLB.com - at the time of the Cardinals' trade for him. Why not?

Well, in 2013, he combined to hit .298/.417/.392/.809 with just 4 homers in AA and AAA combined. Then, in 2014 he continued to decline hitting just .263/.381/.412/.793.

The good news for Cardinals fans is that the BB rate has improved even from his early career - up to 17.1% in 2013 and 15.5% in 2014. He also stole 11 bases and only got caught 3 times in 2014. Lastly, he hit 15 homers (a single-season high for him) this past season as well. The .151 ISO he put up last year was his best single-season ISO as well.

His career splits are pretty even - putting the ball in play more against left-handed pitching (for a higher average but less power). His lack of power went to the extreme against lefties last year - with a slugging .037 lower than his OBP, but his ISO against right-handed pitching was a robust (for him) .175 in 2014.

Like Matt Carpenter - who on Twitter recently was listed by Kelly as one of his baseball idols - Kelly sees a ton of pitches, as you might guess. In 2013 with the Mariners, he saw 4.52 P/PA. In 2014, it dropped to 4.19. For comparison, Matt Carpenter's STL totals the last 3 years are: 4.11 (2012), 4.12 (2013), and 4.35 (2014). Kelly could be a very good bat to have on the bench to pinch hit and wear down an opposing pitcher for the top of the order, but being left-handed (not being able to platoon with Adams or Heyward) and not playing SS may not get him a spot on the 40-man roster.