by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We’ve long heard the hype surrounding Kelly, who continues to be blocked by Yadier Molina. However with the all-time great sidelined for at least a month Kelly will finally get his opportunity to get regular playing time and hopefully deliver on the promise.
Prior to the season we ranked him as the Cardinals’ #2 prospect, awarding him a “B+” grade and saying the following:
It’s been a slow build for Kelly, who is the heir apparent to Yadier Molina. He has continued to show a strong approach at the plate, including a 14.3% strikeout rate and 11.8% walk rate over 244 AB at Triple-A last season. With a solid 8.7% SwStr% in the minors, and a 6.0% mark over 69 AB in the Majors in ’17, there’s little reason to think there’s going to be a change.
The question has always been if he would develop power, and as he matures that’s beginning to show up. He hit 10 HR (with 13 doubles) last season at Triple-A, though we’ll have to keep that in perspective having come in the Pacific Coast League. He may never be a 20+ HR hitter, but it seems like he could develop into a consistent 12-15 HR catcher to go along with a .270+ average. That’s a rare combination, especially in a backstop who can handle the job defensively, the big question is simply when the opportunity will come.
He’s struggled at the start of 2018, hitting .234 with 2 HR and 11 RBI over 77 AB. It hasn’t been his approach, with a 15.7% strikeout rate and 12.4% walk rate, and his 22.6% line drive rate offers promise as well. Instead he’s simply struggled with some poor luck (.262 BABIP), which is easy to envision him improving upon.
In fact the numbers are right along the lines of what we saw in 2017, when he struck out 14.3% and hit the ball to the tune of a 23.9% line drive rate. The difference really is a drop in his HR/FB (12.7% to 8.3%) as well as the BABIP (.304 to .262). In other words the upside we saw entering the year remains, it’s just a matter of him taking advantage of this opportunity.
He should get that chance, over Francisco Pena (who is hitting .143) and that makes Kelly an intriguing option, even in deeper one-catcher formats:
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Too shallow
- 12 Team League – Potential Add
- 14+ Team League – Must Add
- NL-Only League – Must Add
- Keeper/Dynasty – Must Add
- Two-Catcher Leagues – Must Add
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.