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St. Louis Cardinals acquire INF Ty Kelly, the most interesting man in the minors

In a swap of minor leaguers, the Cardinals added more depth to their utility bench by acquiring former UC Davis baseball star Ty Kelly. Of note, Daniel Descalso also played his college ball at UC Davis.

That face screams scrappy.
That face screams scrappy.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Triple-A infielder Ty Kelly (26 years old) from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Double-A right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio (24 years old). As usual, Aaron Finkel was on top of things and already provided us with some brief information regarding the utility infielder, but let's see what else we can dig up on him.

Minor league statistics

Year Level PA BA OBP SLG ISO wRC+ BB% K%
2013 AA 343 .283 .389 .382 .099 120 14.9% 14.3%
2013 AAA 252 .320 .456 .406 .086 141 20.2% 16.3%
2014 AAA 549 .263 .381 .412 .149 113 15.5% 17.5%

What stands out most is Kelly's ridiculously high walk rates during his last three minor league stints which subsequently led to terrific on-base percentages. The significant reason behind his high walk rates is the fact that he "chooses not to swing," as discussed in a 2013 article over at Lookout Landing. Kelly had an overall swing percentage of 30.8% in 2013 (36.4% in 2014), which would be the lowest at the major league level. In 2013, one of his baseball heroes, Matt Carpenter, had the lowest in the majors at 37.3%.

When Scott Weber pointed out that he doesn't swing often on a Lookout Landing podcast (link), Kelly responded, "No, I guess not...It's one of those things that you can zone in on only the pitches you want to swing at, and if they don't throw it there, then there's no reason to swing." Regarding his high walk rate, "Yeah, it's always been something I've taken pride in—knowing the zone and being good with two strikes." In response to if he will be able to transition his approach to the big league level with better pitchers, Kelly stated that he doesn't see why he can't "continue to grow and adjust as the pitchers do." Kelly's laid-back, confident responses regarding his already well-developed hitting approach makes him an intriguing pinch-hit candidate, should he find a way on the 25-man roster.

On his increased power at the plate last season (.149 ISO versus .086 the year before), Kelly credits "his physical development, and his polished approach. It's an approach that keeps him from falling into scenarios that favor the pitcher." As a competent switch hitter, Kelly has enjoyed success against both left-handers and right-handers, with very few reference of performance splits seen in his statistics. His minor league career slash line of .307/.389/.386 against lefties (per Minor League Central) also makes him an interesting PH candidate when a tough LOOGY is brought into the game.

Twitter game (@tykelly11verified by Lookout Landing as being authentic)

To be honest, this is only a start. Heather's Hunt and Peck post that publishes later today will have much more if you are interested in checking in on those.


As linked to once already, Kelly gave a tick over 30 minutes of his offseason time to participate in a podcast with SBN's Lookout Landing. Given the Cardinals just traded away Tyrell Jenkins, who provided me with a great deal of insight and accessibility, it appears that this offseason is a good time to get in touch with Kelly. I will see what I can do before Spring Training because if he manages to attain a big-league roster spot, I'm assuming his accessibility will dwindle, but who knows? At the very least, he should provide us with some pretty humorous tweets, so make sure to give him a follow: @tykelly11.

Guitar and singing skills

I am no music aficionado, but I applaud Kelly for publishing this video and a handful of others for the whole world to see.

Bottom line

At 26 years of age with zero MLB plate appearances, will Ty Kelly have much of a big-league impact? Will he even make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training? It's not likely, but he has at least one polished skill (an eye for the strike zone) and has shown he's capable of playing all over the diamond, which, if used correctly, can provide quite a value coming off an MLB bench. Given Gaviglio is a 24 year old projected to pitch in Triple-A for the first time in an organization stocked with young arms, there wasn't much risk associated with this move by Mozeliak, if any.

If Kelly is able to provide any value at the big league level, it will be more than what Gaviglio was going to offer the club. I respect the staff over at Lookout Landing, and though they are likely slightly biased because of the accessibility Kelly gave them, they seem, at the very least, intrigued by what Kelly could do at the next level. I hope the 26-year-old switch-hitting utility man gets a chance with the Birds on the Bat. The additions of Dean Anna and now Ty Kelly, combined with some of Mozeliak's comments, make it seem as if we have seen the end of Daniel Descalso in a Cardinals uniform.