St. Louis Cardinals: Carson Kelly Has Been Called Up

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Mar 4, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros Andrew Aplin (77) is safe at home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly (82) drops the ball while trying to tag him during the fourth inning at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2016; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Houston Astros Andrew Aplin (77) is safe at home as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Carson Kelly (82) drops the ball while trying to tag him during the fourth inning at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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The St. Louis Cardinals have called up their top catching prospect Carson Kelly. Can the youngster find his stroke at the big league level?

The St. Louis Cardinals have called up their number 11 prospect. Prior to their early start against Cincinnati on Sunday, the Cards announced a series of roster moves, including designating 29-year old infielder Dean Anna for assignment. This allowed them to call up the defensive specialist Carson Kelly, who has seen his bat improve at each level in St. Louis’ farm system.

Kelly’s defensive ability is not in question noting the fact that he won a minor league gold glove in 2015. Carson is ready to contribute defensively at the big league level, but many consider his bat to be a major question mark. In 2015, Kelly had 389 AB in advanced A ball but he posted a horrific slash line of .219/.263/.332.

Surprisingly though, Carson has improved his offense as he’s moved up through the St. Louis Cardinals system. He started 2016 in Springfield and put up a career-high batting average of .287 through 216 AB.

He got the call up to Memphis in July and his bat made the jump with him. In 113 AB at the AAA level, Kelly posted an average of .292. Despite the jump in competition, Kelly’s 2016 OPS is .738. That’s a .144 increase from the 2015 campaign.

Kelly did not make his debut on Sunday, but after Alberto Rosario‘s recent struggles, the club may be inclined to see what Kelly can contribute off the bench going forward. Kelly has shown improvement at every level in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, and the redbirds are hoping the trend continues with his recent promotion.

Kelly’s call up serves multiple purposes. His presence may allow Yadier Molina to take some games off or even make a start or two at first base. Additionally, the St. Louis Cardinals are hoping for yet another bat off the bench to spark this lineup in the late innings.

“Obviously, we got a catcher and if Yadi’s able to go, he’s going to get a lot of work,” said skipper Mike Matheny. “This is a great experience, but also a start like last night–when Yadi’s a little banged up, that very easily could’ve been Carson’s.”

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Molina has put together a strong second half but has made as many starts behind the plate as any active catcher except A.J. Pierzynski. His contract expires in 2017, but the Cards do have a team option in 2018. Obviously, the team is in no rush to push Molina out the door. But this opportunity could serve as an audition for the young catcher. Time see to what Carson Kelly can do.

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