Cardinal Prospect Interview: Joe Kelly

Dustin Mattison talks with the St. Louis Cardinals' third round pick, fireballer Joe Kelly.

With a dearth of high quality starting pitching in the minor leagues, the St. Louis Cardinals took one of the best relievers in college baseball with its choice in the third round.

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 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.

DM: You played on Team USA with current Cardinal farmhands Lance Lynn and Brett Wallace. What was that experience like and what was it like to play with those players?

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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