Casey Kelly is trying to rehab his way back to full strength, then back to the bigs. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Results and pitching lines against the Inland Empire 66ers and the Lancaster Jethawks are the furthest thing from the mind of Casey Kelly. His only goals as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery: throw more pitches and feel fine when it is over.
So far so good.
Over the past seven days Kelly tossed eight and one third innings for Single-A Lake Elsinore. From 58 pitches into the fourth inning in start number one, Kelly upped his workload to 72 pitches into the fifth inning on Thursday. Check mark number one. And about that all important first goal, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock, the Padres and Kelly say the arm is feeling great.
The plan moving forward for Kelly is also taking shape. A trip to Double-A San Antonio could be in the cards as soon as Tuesday. Manager Bud Black also mentioned to Brock the pitch limit for the 24-year-old righty will also head up to 85.
While the priority in the near future for Kelly will remain his innings and the health of his arm, once he does make his way to Double-A that is where we can start to focus on the results once again for last year’s 45th best rated prospect by Baseball America.
Kelly’s largest workload yet came in 2011 when he tossed 142 innings for the Missions and posted a 3.98 era. He was stingy with walks, crafting 2.2 K/BB ratio and posting 105 strike outs. During his rehab starts, Kelly has allowed 14 hits, but has yet to walk a batter. He already has nine punch-outs. Those positive trends could help determine, once deemed fully healthy, how long it will take him to climb the ladder.
Talking conservative goals, Kelly to El Paso by July could be the mantra.
He tossed 12 innings at the Triple-A level back in 2012 and if he can continue to get stronger, then put up positive results at AA, Kelly could be on the doorstep of a late season call-up for the Padres. That would be his second taste of the majors, and a first taste of sweet redemption on the long road back from injury.