A few words on catching with St. Louis Cardinals prospect Carson Kelly
In his first at-bat against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Carson Kelly saw three pitches.
He laid off the first pitch down low, taking a big swing at the next pitch to foul it off. On the final pitch, he showcased the aggressive approach that is both a strength and weakness, connecting for an infield pop-up.
Kelly knows who he is. Even at twenty, he knows what he needs to develop in order to be more successful.
"I’m starting to put together quality at-bats. To start the season, I was rushed at the plate," he said. "At times, I think I’ve been a little too aggressive. It’s about taking a step back, and remembering what we were doing in spring training, and then focusing on the situation, not the swing."
In 19 games with the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, he’s hitting .239/.304/.324. The St. Louis Cardinals 2012 second round pick out of Westview High School (Portland, Oregon) spent all of 2014 with the Midwest League Peoria Chiefs, finishing the season with a .248/.328/.366 slash line in 363 at-bats, including 90 hits, 49 RBI, and 37 walks through 98 games.
Defensively, Carson has thrown out four runners this year without giving up a stolen base. Last year he caught 33% of runners attempting to steal on him with Peoria.
Catchers are typically looked to as leaders, focusing on their game behind the plate above all else. If not a natural leader, Kelly has taken to the role and is learning about himself in that regard.
"[I’m]a little bit vocal. That’s something I’m working on. I think of myself quieter, but I’m more vocal in that role and that’s required of the position."
While he’s focused on developing the catcher-pitcher relationship at all times, Kelly also takes into account his lack of professional experience, and how he can learn just as much from the guy on the mound.
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"That relationship is number one. We trust them, they trust us. You have to establish that from day one. Camaraderie helps. They help me out too. I mean, it’s my second year. Communicating is very beneficial for both of us. "
He goes on to explain the area he’s in need of the most improvement.
"Game calling is the big thing. Last year it was more about technique and being behind the plate every day," he said. "It’s catching first, hitting second. For a younger catcher like me, that’s important. I was OK balancing it out, but ultimately catching comes first. In the end, I need to improve everything. This is my second full year. I’m passionate about all of it."