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Viva El Birdos 2017 Cardinals Top Prospects: #4 Carson Kelly

The heir

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE

#4: Carson Kelly, C

6’2”, 200 lbs; R/R; 14 July 1994

Relevant Stats: 115 wRC+ (AA), 98 wRC+ (AAA), 135 wRC+ (AFL)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

There’s a funny thing happening with this list. As we get closer to the top, I find I have less to say about the prospects I’m writing about. Of course, I suppose that shouldn’t be completely surprising, given that these players are much, much more well known, and so while I’m still attempting to give proper scouting reports on them, the fact is you know who these guys are, and I don’t need to provide nearly as much background information.

So here’s who Carson Kelly is: he’s the guy who’s likely going to take over for Yadier Molina in the relatively near future. He’s a converted third baseman who was drafted out of an Oregon high school in a town called Beaverton, which happens to be my favourite town in Oregon for completely non-comedic reasons. Coming into the draft, he was noted for his power potential, solid contact abilities, and a big throwing arm at the hot corner that also made him a pitching prospect at one point.

Now, almost five years after being drafted, Kelly is one of the finest defenders behind the plate in the minor leagues, and the sort of studious observer of the game the Cardinals slobber all over themselves in praising. His power is still more potential than anything else at this point, which is somewhat surprising, but his plate approach and contact abilities are both pluses.

He made it to St. Louis this past season, then headed off to the Arizona Fall League and put together a remarkable offensive campaign in which he walked more than three times as often as he struck out, and showed off a little of that power potential. He’s going to head back to Triple A to open the 2017 season, and will continue to hone his craft both behind the plate and at it.

Long story short, we mostly know who Carson Kelly is. He’s the next starting catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, unless things go horribly wrong, and we’re fairly certain he’s going to be pretty good at the catching part of the job. How much the offense comes along remains to be seen, but there are intriguing glimpses of an above-average bat here and there.

Player Comp: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Carson Kelly’s contact-driven profile and high-level defensive skills, not to mention his baseball IQ, are all reminiscent of....Yadier Molina.