Carson Kelly, C (Palm Beach)
Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Instructional league has been important to Kelly’s career. Back in 2013, the Cardinals used it to begin Kelly’s conversion from third baseman to catcher. Whatever they did worked, because two years on Kelly is the best catching prospect in the system. Pitchers like throwing to him, he has a good ability to block pitches in the dirt and plenty of arm to already be about league average in terms of throwing out base stealers.
The problem is the bat. He hit just .219 at high-A Palm Beach this summer, and you could chalk that up to him focusing on catching. But he has yet to hit better than .257 in his four years in the system. The reason used to be the vast number of ground balls he hit, but for the last two seasons he’s hit about as many balls in the air as on the ground. With good bat speed, Kelly’s hit tool should improve with age. We’ll see if the extra work he put in this fall made any difference.