Heading into the 2015 season, the St. Louis Cardinals needed a replacement for non-tendered second baseman Daniel Descalso. To join an in-house option in Greg Garcia, the club acquired Ty Kelly in a November trade from Seattle, for Double-A pitcher Sam Gaviglio. The infielder, who has yet to make his MLB debut, was placed on St. Louis’ 40-man roster.
In 2014, Kelly, 26, batted .263 with 15 home runs and a team-high 80 RBI (12th in the Pacific Coast League) in 134 games played with Triple-A Tacoma. He also drew 85 walks (2nd in PCL) and posted a .381 OBP. (10th in PCL). The switch-hitter launched 14 of his 15 home runs from the left side and he hit .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-foot, 185-pound California native owns a lifetime batting mark of .282 with a .387 OBP, 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 in 2014 and earned MiLB.com organizational All-Star recognition for the third-straight season. Unable to make the final step with the Mariners, Kelly received a new chance with St. Louis.
With an innate ability to take pitches and get on base, as well as show proficiency at several positions defensively, Kelly impressed right out of the gates in his first spring training camp as a Cardinal.
In 35 at-bats over 21 Grapefruit League games, Kelly’s current line has dipped to .200/.326/.286/.612. His walk count of nine is greater than his hit total of seven. He has struck out 20 percent of the time. Kelly’s hit count of seven includes a double and a triple. He has scored three and driven in three more.
After a hot start, Kelly has cooled off considerably the last two weeks. During the most recent period, he is just 2-for-17 at the plate (.118) with no free passes. As Randal Grichuk continues to shine, my assessment is that Kelly’s chance of securing the final reserve roster spot with St. Louis is in decline.
Though the Memphis infield situation appears crowded to open the season, Kelly has shown his value and his versatility should give Redbirds manager Mike Shildt more lineup options. In my projected Memphis middle infield, Kelly would join Dean Anna, Garcia and perhaps Jacob Wilson, depending on how the rest of the roster is configured.
In the following interview, Kelly spoke about his background, coming to the Cardinals, his first spring with his new organization and what may be ahead.
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