On Thursday evening, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the acquisition of infielder Ty Kelly from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio. Kelly has been added to the Cardinals 40-man Major League roster, which currently stands at 37 players.
Kelly, 26, batted .263 with 15 home runs and a team-high 80 RBI (12th in Pacific Coast League) in 134 games played with Tacoma (Triple-A) this past season. He also drew 85 walks (2nd in PCL) and posted a .381 on-base pct. (10th in PCL). The switch-hitting infielder hit 14 of his 15 home runs from the left side and he batted .378 with seven home runs when batting with runners in scoring position.
Kelly was the 13th round draft selection of the Baltimore Orioles in 2009 from the University of California – Davis. The 6-0, 185-pound California native owns a lifetime batting mark of .282 with a .387 on-base pct., 39 home runs, 336 RBI and 41 stolen bases in 703 career minor league games.
Kelly appeared in 64 games at second base and 36 at third base this season and earned MiLB.com organizational All-Star recognition for the third-straight season.
Gaviglio, 24, was the Cardinals’ fifth-round draft selection from Oregon State University. He pitched at Springfield of the Double-A Texas League in 2014, going 5-12 with a 4.28 ERA in 25 appearances (24 starts).
Brian Walton’s take
Gaviglio was due to require protection from the Rule 5 Draft, so instead of adding him to the 40-man, the Cardinals made this trade instead.
Kelly is the second middle infielder added to the 40-man this off-season, joining Dean Anna. The two may compete for an infield reserve position with St. Louis, potentially vacated if Daniel Descalso is non-tendered. Otherwise, they could provide infield help at Triple-A Memphis, from where 2014 Redbirds Jermaine Curtis, Greg Miclat and Luis Mateo all departed as free agents.
Kelly moved from Baltimore to Seattle in a June 2013 trade for outfielder Eric Thames. He had begun his professional career in the New York-Penn League in 2009, where he was named an all-star. Kelly was a Sally League mid-season all-star in 2011 when repeating the Class-A circuit.
In 2012, Kelly was a Carolina League all-star and was leading the A-Advanced league in batting when promoted to Double-A Bowie in mid-July. He returned to Bowie for 2013 until the Thames trade, at which point he was promoted to Triple-A. Between the two stops, his 102 walks tied for second among all minor leaguers.
This past spring, Kelly was a non-roster invitee to Mariners major league camp, where he had just two hits in 17 at-bats (.117).
Lacking the agility to be a standout second baseman and the power to profile as a third baseman, Kelly's Major League future remains uncertain despite his on-base prowess. In fact, he has more career walks (434) than strikeouts (431).
Kelly's first-time placement on a 40-man roster does enhance his MLB chances, though.
Unless further unannounced moves were made before Thursday night’s deadline, it appears the Cardinals have left infielder Breyvic Valera and pitchers Mitch Harris, Dean Kiekhefer and Boone Whiting among the unprotected for the December 11 Rule 5 Draft.
One or more could be claimed, but whether they could stick on another Major League club’s 25-man roster for the entire 2015 season would be another question entirely.
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