Better yet, how concerned should the fans be. Casey Kelly is widely regarded as one of the Padres’ best pitching prospects, and he is an even bigger focus for fans because he’s the last hope for a respectable return on the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Yesterday it was confirmed that Kelly will be heading to the 7-day disabled list – something available to the minor leagues whereas the minimum for non-concussion injuries in the majors is a 15-day DL. He reportedly experienced elbow soreness and will be evaluated.
So far in two games with Triple-A Tucson, Kelly has been impressive. He has not factored in a decision yet, but he has a 2.25 ERA, a 1.12 FIP, and is striking out 10.50 batters per nine innings pitched. Two games is not enough time to say Kelly has finally arrived, but it’s enough time to say with a certain level of certainty that he was next in line for a promotion. WithJoe Wieland’s call up in the wake of the Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley injuries, it’s hard to imagine Kelly being far off from a call-up of his own. The elbow injury, though, is concerning.
Kelly has struggled to live up to the hype that was heaped on him after Jed Hoyer sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston and received Kelly in return among others. At the numerous levels and organizations in which Kellt has pitched since 2009, he has posted the following ERA’s: 1.12 (9 games – Red Sox – A), 3.09 (8 games – Red Sox – High A), 6.75 (4 games – Rookie League), 5.3
1 (21 games – Red Sox – AA), 3.98 (27 games – Padres – AA), 2.25 (2 games – Padres – AAA).
With Edinson Volques playing Jekyll and Hyde on the mound, two starters on the DL, and Clayton Richard maintaining his same old stuff, the Padres need as much pitching help as they can get. Should Kelly’s injury be anything more than soreness, should his trip to the DL be anything more than precautionary, it could be a huge blow to the Padres.
Last year, our friends over at Seedlings to Stars ranked Kelly the best pitcher in the Padres organization. However, as late as November of 2011 not all the writers at S2S were sold on Kelly. If his first two starts of 2012 were any indication, Kelly may be ready to live up to much of the anticipation and hype levied on him early on. San Diego was probably looking at a late September call-up for Kelly, but if he remains healthy and the Padres continue to experience pitching injuries, Kelly may get the call much earlier.
Health is the key though. So far, we have very little word on the extent of the Kelly injury. The Tucson Padres site barely even acknowledges the injury, covering it just in their game notes from yesterday. Yet despite the limited coverage, the injury could have far-reaching implications. A major loss of time for Kelly could lead to promotions that wouldn’t have otherwise happened, players could get pushed up the ranks before they’re ready, and Kelly could eventually fall off the radar. Of course, this could just be a case of elbow soreness and we’ll see Kelly back next week.
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