Braves Sign Top Australian Catcher

The Atlanta Braves have signed another top Australian player to a contract. BravesCenter's Bill Shanks has the details for our premium subscriberts.

Taken from the BJS Player Management Website:

Catcher Matt Kennelly of Perth has signed with the Atlanta Braves during his time at the MLB Academy on the Gold Coast.

Despite his older brother Tim being with the Phillies and an early approach from them the Atlanta Braves eventually fought off offers from not only the Phillies but a number of other teams to get Matt's signature.

"We have been watching Matt for some time", said the Braves International Scouting Director Phil Dale, "and we went to Perth a few times to work him out".

When teams made a move immediately after he became eligible for signing on July 2nd the Braves were ready and eventually agreed to a 6 figure bonus to get the young catcher.

"I have always wanted to play professional baseball and I know that now I will have a good chance to make it to the Majors with the Braves organisation," Kennelly says.

His older brother Tim plays for the Phillies in the Gulf Coast League and a regular guest in his house is Mitch Graham another Philly. His coach at the National Schoolboys tournament held in Brisbane earlier this year was Phillies scout Kevin Hooker, His family, especially his father and younger brothers, regularly wear the Phillies gear. But when it came time for Matt Kennelly to sign a professional contract it was with the Atlanta Braves and not the Phillies. The Twins and the Phillies were the first clubs to make contact after July 2nd which, under MLB rules was the 1st date that clubs could make approaches to Matt.

The first thing the Kennelly family did on receiving the initial offer was contact agent Trevor Jarrett asking him to handle the negotiations which were obviously about to take place. As is his procedure all clubs were notified that Matt had received offers and the Braves soon made contact and over the ensuing weeks following negotiations with Trevor Jarrett the bonus rose to 6 figures. Throw in a valuable college scholarship component and the deal was done only a matter of hours before Matt was due to leave for Mexico to play in the AA [U17] World Championships. Phil Dale was actually in his car on the way to the airport when Trevor Jarrett rang him to say that they had a deal and Dale immediately turned off the freeway and returned to the Radisson on the Gold Coast to ink in the contract.

With his two older brothers involved in playing baseball its no wonder that 5yr old Matt would also gravitate to Tee Ball - joining the East Freemantle Teeball club.

Perhaps it was pre determined that he would become a Brave as the natural progression of course was from Tee Ball to Baseball and whilst still at Palmyra Primary school Matt moved over to the Melville Braves Baseball Club where he still plays.

For the past two years he has represented at the U16 National Championships and the National Schoolboys Championships where this year he was selected in the National Schoolboy team to tour South Africa, although he will now have to withdraw from that tour due to his professional obligations. Like all elite players from Perth he was given a scholarship to the WAIS under the coaching of veteran coach Don Kyle and his performances there and at the U16 National Championships led to his selection to attend the prestigious MLB Academy on the Gold Coast.

Still in Yr 11 at Freemantle Senior High School he will not be able to start his professional career until 2007 after he graduates from High School. However, the Braves will send him over to Instructional League this September and then give him more time at the Braves complex in Florida during 2006 as well as paying for him to attend the MLB Academy again on the Gold Coast.

No doubt there will be Braves gear in the Kennelly household very shortly.

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