Some prospects are going to have sexy 30 present/70 future grades on them, Carson Kelly is not one of those prospects.
When watching Kelly, what sticks out is that he lacks a weakness. He is not projectable like his brother, but rather a rare “safe” high school pick.
At the plate Kelly features a large leg-kick, using it to generate momentum and torque to drive the ball. His swing is compact and features a direct path to the ball, which should limit the amount of strikeouts he will have in the majors. He has good bat speed, and when coupled with the torque he generates should result in good batting averages, and decent pop.
He stayed inside the ball well, but also showed the ability to pull the ball with authority. He was very controlled at the plate for someone that features such a high leg-kick, and should only get better with this as he cuts down on it.
Although not an elite athlete, Kelly is athletic enough to be able to hit to all fields with authority. I think he will be a 24-27 HR guy in his peak years as an MLB-er, with a .270/.280 batting average. Although I was unable to get a good feel for his approach, from what I saw he should be able to draw enough walks to get into the .340 OBP range if he can bat .270/.280.
Kelly has average range at third, and I believe he can stick there long-term. He is inconsistent still in the field, but it is not anything that some minor league seasoning can’t fix. Kelly showed an aptitude for protecting the lines, getting to two balls hit to his right.
His arm in the field grades out as above-average. He made one play in which he got to a ball, and planted near the foul line and fired a bullet to first base to record the out. I believe that his arm is above-average.
Kelly is an average runner, but speed is not a part of his game.
Kelly has a mature body, not offering much projection. He is listed at 6’2 215, and that seems about right as he looks the part of a third baseman. He has enough athleticism to be just fine there. I thought Kelly did a good job of taking a bad at-bat and putting it behind him, which is always something to look for when a high school pick makes his pro debut.
Kelly is a player that I expect to move quickly, as he is very polished for a high school pick. The lazy comp. for him would be David Freese, but that is the name that keeps coming to mind. I think that Kelly can have a peak year similar to Freese this year (5 WAR), but I believe he will hang roughly around the 3-4 WAR area for the majority of his career.
Spencer is an independant scout and writes for a few websites. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter at @BaseballSpencer