With three-average to above average pitches, University of California-Riverside's Joe Kelly would seem to have the repertoire to be a starter. That is what the Cardinals' brass feels, as well, so the right-hander will start his career as a starter.
Kelly is the Highlanders career saves record holder with a total of 24. His 12 saves this year were the second most in the history of the program.
Baseball America named Kelly to the Preseason All-American Third Team in 2009, and as a freshman, Kelly was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and Ping!, a Second Team All-American by Rivals.com and Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-Conference. He also played for the USA National Team in the summer of 2007.
Dustin Mattison: Can you talk me through what you were doing on draft day?
Joe Kelly: On draft day, I was celebrating my birthday with friends and family at a local restaurant/pub. I turned 21 that day so it was kind of like a double whammy. Other than that, I was sitting around waiting for my name to be called.
DM: Did you expect the Cardinals to pick you or did it come as a surprise?
JK: I really didn't expect the Cardinals to take me so it was a surprise definitely. I didn't care really who took me as long as I was drafted.
DM: Can you give me a scouting report on Joe Kelly?
JK: I throw a two-seam and four-seam fastball. My two-seam sits 94-97 MPH. My four-seam has been clocked up at101 when I was in Arizona for a pre-draft workout but it usually sits 96-99. My slider sits 84-87 and I like to throw it early in counts to keep the hitters off balance. My change sits at 85-88. I just started throwing a change and have been told its pretty good. I am a pitcher that loves to attack batters with a lot of inside fastballs. I don't ever go for strikeouts, I like groundballs and to go right after the hitter.
DM: It seems that you have the pitches to be a starter and the Cardinals' Jeff Luhnow made reference to that after the draft. What are your feelings on moving to the rotation?
JK: I would love to become a starter. I don't really think that it would be hard; maybe it would take a while before I could go (deep into games) but I am positive I could do it. It is definitely something I would like to try.
DM: There are some discrepancies about your college injury that limited your playing time. Was it a shoulder?
JK: I have never had a shoulder problem. People have gotten that mixed up with my forearm/elbow tendonitis. But, it is great and I haven't had problems since. I think it was just getting used to pitching.
JK: It was a great experience, one I will never forget. Those are two great guys. I really hit it off with Lance. We still keep in touch and he was actually my roommate in Brazil.
Brett is a great hitter; he is definitely one of the best hitters I have ever seen. He always puts that bat on the ball. Overall they were both great teammates and team USA was a once of a lifetime experience.
DM: I believe you were teammates with another farmhand, Adam Reifer. How do you two compare as pitchers?
JK: I really wouldn't compare myself to him. People would probably say well you guys both throw hard but I am not about throwing hard. I like to use all my pitches. But we both come from the same principles about attacking hitters and not walking them. I guess you can say we compare by coming from the same school.
DM: So what do you know about the Cardinals' organization?
JK: I know that they are a great organization and they take care of their players. They also like to move players quick through their farm system. I am really excited about getting my career started.
DM: Last question. What should Cardinal fans know about you that they probably don't know?
JK: I have played video games professionally.
I would like to wish Joe the best of luck in his career with the Cardinals. With his ability, the though of him honing his craft as a starter has to be exciting for Cardinal fans.
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