The St. Louis Cardinals will be in need of a replacement for Yadier Molina in a few years, this prospect could be that guy.
We all know that the St. Louis Cardinals‘ catcher, Yadier Molina is on his way out the door in this league. The organization will be tasked with the inevitable and near impossible task of replacing not just the franchise’s best catcher of all time, but one of the best catchers of all time period. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be in Cooperstown someday.
Replacing what Molina has brought to this organization is going to be hard. However, one benefit to having Molina finishing his career with the Cardinals, is that he will likely be around even after he retires. Not only that but manager Mike Matheny was quite the defensive wizard at catcher himself, so the organization has the right tutelage in place to work with someone to be the next great catcher. That someone? Carson Kelly.
There is a lot to like about the catching phenom’s game, despite the unimpressive offensive numbers so far.
#7 Carson Kelly C
Scout Grade: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Analysis: Carson is one of those interesting players. He was drafted as a third baseman and after a not so great rookie affair, the team wanted him to try out a new position. That new position was catcher, probably the hardest position to learn and become good at in a short amount of time.
However, Kelly has taken great strides in the transition, I talked at length about Kelly a couple months ago, as the potential replacement for Molina in a few years. The problem with Kelly has been his offense. In his second full year at the position, Kelly had a slash of .219/.263/.332 with 27 extra base-hits.
Obviously those aren’t the greatest numbers, but they aren’t too far off from his career norm, and when you consider that he was playing in Palm Beach (pitching heavy league) it is a bit acceptable. Kelly has come great strides in his defense as a catcher.
“Red Baron” from Viva El Birdos mentions this about Kelly’s defense “Kelly has come along quickly as a backstop, and his blocking, framing, and catch and throw skills are all well above-average at this point. Calling games and handling pitchers he’s still working on developing, but he receives rave reviews from pitchers and coaches alike for his baseball IQ.” It’s not just me and other writers raving about Kelly’s game. Coaches, scouts, and players across the FSL are raving about Kelly’s defense.
He is this high on my list for that reason, the bat we can wait on. The organization is extremely high on him as a catcher, and at the moment he stands as the best catching prospect in the organization. John Manuel in Derrick Goold’s “best podcast in baseball” mentioned that Kelly has the potential to be an advanced defender. Derrick Goold also said the offensive numbers can be ignored due to the fact that he was playing in the Florida State League.
So, plenty of reason to think that Kelly still can be of value both offensively and defensively.
Roster Prediction: AA Springfield
This will be the best shot Kelly’s offense has seen in his career. In a hitter’s Hammonds Field and a Texas League that is known for it’s offense, if Kelly’s offense doesn’t click, it may be a bad sign for the career of the promising catcher.
If you have missed any of our “Top Prospects” series, you can check them out here.
*Scout Grade via MLB.com