TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #10: Carson Kelly

Drafted 86th overall, the former Oregon prep star hit for power immediately upon joining short-season Johnson City. Today's report is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

School: Westview High School, Portland, Ore.

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA 3B 7/14/1994 6-2 210 R R 2012 2nd

Selected 2012 stats

JC 0.225 0.222 213 24 48 10 9 25 10 33 0 0.294 0.263 0.399 0.662

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (13): I liked Carson Kelly as a second-round draft pick. I didn't think he rated mid-first round money even if it was to lure him away from a top college program. But how Bill DeWitt spends his money is really not relevant to Kelly's prospect status.

Kelly demonstrated flashes of brilliance mixed with equally poor performance in other areas. His major asset shown last year was exceptional power for a young player. He was able to do that while striking out at a well below average rate.

On the down side, he had an extremely low walk rate and his line drive rate was well below average. Kelly divided his time between pitching and playing in the field during high school. I'm hopeful that now concentrating solely on being a hitter and position player will result in quick improvements in his game. The other reason for strong hope for Kelly is that he was still 17 when he signed, so there should also be improvement simply through maturation.

I have seen many people predict that Kelly will start at State College next year (particularly since another Cardinals third base prospect will most likely be at Quad cities). However, the Cardinals do not have a history of sending top high school prospects to that league. Normally those payers will go straight from rookie ball to low-A ball. I think it is very possible that Kelly will open in extended spring training but go straight to Quad Cities at some point. If the Cards think he has not improved much, he could repeat at Johnson City in 2013.

Message board community (10): Carson Kelly debuted at 10th on the community list after being picked in the second round this past June. He flashed impressive power with nine home runs in just 213 Appalachian League at-bats. He was particularly impressive in July, with an OPS of .900, before cooling to .557 in August, in comparable numbers of trips to the plate. He also only fanned 33 times, which is impressive for someone who won't turn 19 until Bastille Day.

One of our regular posters who watched him in several games saw an excellent backhand play at third, an opposite field homer, line drives, and good contact. Being able to play third (Kelly that is, not our poster) is a plus. Obviously, Kelly is a long way from the big leagues, but he has considerable potential. It is possible that August exposed his holes and he will need extended spring (or more) to adjust, but I could imagine an impressive spring landing him a trip to the Midwest League. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (9): What an impressive logjam the Cardinals organization has created at third base. Drafting three players at the position in the first 86 picks of the 2012 draft took them from having no hot corner candidates with legitimate big-league aspirations (once Zack Cox was traded) to having to balance the developmental needs of three of them.

The three are fortunately not yet at the same point. Stephen Piscotty came from a major university program and began in the Class-A Midwest League. Patrick Wisdom hailed from a smaller college and made his initial professional assignment in the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League while high schooler Kelly did his professional internship in the rookie-level Appalachian League.

All three demonstrated enough progress in 2012 to justify moving up to start 2013. My main question is what the organization will do with Kelly - having the highest-ceiling of the three, but also the greatest need for development time - if one of the other two slow down. However, that is only a potential issue and one that could be some months away, if it appears at all.

Had Kelly logged a more completely-balanced performance at Johnson City as did Anthony Garcia and Oscar Taveras in the two years immediately preceding him, I think Kelly would have improved his chances of joining the other two now-top 10 prospects in receiving a Midwest League assignment to open the next season. However, with Kelly set to play in 2013 at the age of 18 in his first full-year in the system, I suspect the organization will be cautious not to rush him out of camp.

Kelly will be one of the players I will be most interested in seeing again in Jupiter in March, as I look for clues as to the timing of his potential readiness for full-season ball. While Kelly's .225 average at Johnson City was a most-noticeable weak link, his BABIP of .222 suggests considerable unluckiness that should balance out over time.

He did get a leg up on 2013 preparation by competing in instructs this fall. Already with 215 pounds on his sturdy 6-foot-2 frame, Kelly looked pretty good there. I saw him blast a home run into the left field corner off another top 40 prospect, Victor De Leon.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

Premium Article The Cardinal Nation subscribers: Check out Brian Walton's exclusive interview with Kelly from the fall instructional league.

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