Jared Kelley is widely regarded as the best high school pitcher in this draft class. Would the San Diego Padres consider him with the eighth overall pick?
Despite being in high school, Jared Kelley has already pitched at PetCo Park, partaking in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. So he’s somewhat familiar with what the San Diego Padres have to offer in terms of a home. The hard-throwing senior from the prestigious Refugio High School in Texas is one of the most polished high school pitchers that scouts have seen in quite some time.
Baseball America ranks him as the 11th best prospect in this draft class. Let’s dive right in.
Weight: 215 pounds
Verbal commitment: Texas
High school: Refugio High School (Texas)
Kelley has the best fastball for any high school prospect in this class. He consistently touches the upper 90s from a 3/4 arm slot. He consistently sits in the mid-90s on his heater and often touches triple digits. He has an above-average changeup and a slider that is still a work in progress.
A guy with his stature, he’s a future workhorse of the rotation and wastes little time between pitches. At the Perfect Game Classic last year, Kelley tossed two innings and struck out four batters.
While the fastball velocity is impressive, Kelley needs to fine-tune his command. He obviously throws hard but sometimes way outside the zone, often resulting in wild pitches. He’ll likely need to develop another pitch to have a sustainable MLB career as well.
Evaluating the fit
The Padres haven’t taken a high school pitcher this talented since MacKenzie Gore with the third overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Gore is nearly ready for the big league rotation, so it would make sense to look at the next wave of talent. High school pitchers are tricky because it’s difficult to determine the talent they are facing.
However, Kelley pitched at one of the most competitive high schools in the country, and he can continue to develop his pitch arsenal in the Padres’ minor league system.