On Monday, The Cardinal Nation announced our choice as the Palm Beach Cardinals Starting Pitcher of the Year for 2015. Based on their pedigrees and success on the mound, there were at least a half-dozen very strong candidates, with the winner being Luke Weaver.
One of the common threads across all of the successful Palm Beach pitchers this past season was the man behind the plate. In just his second season as a catcher, 21-year-old Carson Kelly caught a heavy workload of 920 1/3 innings. After the season, he was recognized for his defensive prowess as the Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner for his position across all levels of Minor League Baseball in 2015.
During a time when many would tire, Kelly got even better, as he led his club into the Florida State League playoffs. The right-handed hitter made great strides offensively during the summer, improving from a .177 average before the break to .263 afterward, hitting five home runs in the second half and plating 51 runners this season.
Now working in Cardinals instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida, Kelly spoke with me about his 2015 season, the personal recognition received, as well as what it was like to be at the other end of pitches from the likes of Weaver, Alex Reyes, Daniel Poncedeleon, Trey Nielsen and Corey Littrell.
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