Lone Star Dugout Video: Keone Kela
Right-hander Keone Kela recently ranked at number 39 on Lone Star Dugout's Texas Rangers Top 50 Prospects list entering the 2013 season. Here's his brief scouting report from the linked story:
The Rangers' 12th-round pick in last year's MLB Draft, Kela quickly turned heads by reaching the upper-90s with his fastball while working short relief in rookie ball. During his debut summer, he often sat anywhere between 92-98 mph and flirted with triple digits at instructs. Kela's breaking ball flashes plus on occasion but is highly inconsistent. With little experience on the mound, the junior college product is quite raw in many areas but shows the makings of two legitimate swing-and-miss offerings. He'll likely slot into a starting rotation in 2013, as the Rangers look to maximize his innings for developmental purposes.
A similar breakdown of all the Rangers' top 50 prospects can be found at the story linked above.
The Rangers drafted Kela out of Everett Community College in Washington, where he played both ways as a freshman in 2012. Working as an outfielder and DH in addition to pitching, Kela went 14-for-48 at the plate in 17 contests.
On the mound, the 19-year-old appeared in 13 games, making four starts. He posted a 2.07 ERA in 39 total innings, yielding 23 hits, walking 25, and striking out 48.
Kela's control was better after signing, and his velocity ticked up a notch. In nine relief appearances with the rookie Surprise Rangers, he surrendered just two earned runs in four hits in 11.1 innings, walking four and striking out 15.
Rangers Minor League Pitching Coordinator Danny Clark had this to say about Kela during an interview in August:
Cole: Keone Kela has shown some good stuff in Arizona thus far. What are your thoughts on his first taste of pro ball?
Clark: Just the initial reaction––basically I saw him one time about four weeks ago. He shows a really good arm action. He really has a fairly clean delivery for a guy that has not pitched a whole lot. And then obviously he has got really good arm strength. I think that's the encouraging part.
I'm really excited to get him into instructional league, get our arms around him, and get really digging into more about who he is and what he's about as far as pitching goes. But I really like everything about him. He has got a very good head on his shoulders, and he is really eager to learn. So I think we're going to see a lot of good things out of this guy.
Cole: You may not know the answer to this yet, having only been in Arizona briefly and seeing him just once. But given Kela's arm strength, is he the type of guy who has a chance to work in a starting role in the lower minors?
Clark: I think that decision will be made at instructs. That's one of the things I want him––we're going to experiment as far as starting in instructs. It's just to allow him to give us a feel of what it is and give him a feel of what it is. Because he was basically an outfielder in junior college and basically he would come in and pitch.
The following video comes from Kela's August 3 outing against the Peoria Padres, the third appearance of his professional career. In the frame, he struck out the side but permitted two unearned runs.
As the video shows, Kela is an arm-strength pitching prospect who showed a feel for the strike zone in last summer's abbreviated debut. He's also raw in many facets. Kela's breaking ball flashes potential but is very inconsistent; he also inexplicably cuts off a throw while standing directly in front of the catcher during the video––a play in which he should have been standing behind the catcher, backing up the throw from center.
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