Friday, July 17, 2009

Prospect Report: Ty Kelly

Welcome back to the Prospect Reports, and I thought I'd mix it up with this one. Last week I went with Falco to an Aberdeen Ironbirds game, partially to prep for a Tyler Townsend report. Well, I found myself thoroughly impressed by another Tyler, Ty Kelly, so now I'd like to give you all a look at this 13th-round pick who might start to turn some heads. In that game Ty went 5-6 with 1 rbi, 3 runs scored, and notched a walk in the process. That hasn't been his only highlight, as he his currently leading the Ironbirds with a .316 average and has recorded multi-hit games in 5 of his past 6 starts. But now I know what you're asking...

So, who is Ty Kelly? Ty Kelly was drafted out of UC Davis in the 13th round of this year's 2009 First Year Player Draft, and quickly signed with the Baltimore Orioles. The versatile infielder, most likely pegged to play at 2nd base as a pro, stands at 6'0" and 185 pounds and is a switch hitter. Ty came out of college as a junior, and as such he will be only reaching his 21st birthday this coming Monday, July 20th (happy early birthday, Ty). At UC Davis, Kelly earned a reputation as a high-average batter and a versatile defender. Despite missing his freshman season with injury, he returned in his sophomore season to lead the Big West Conference in batting, hitting at a clip of .394 with an on-base percentage of .448. He came back to earth in his junior year, batting .307 with four home runs, starting all 55 games for the Aggies. After being drafted by the Orioles, Ty quickly signed on and has been a very pleasant surprise for the Ironbirds, batting .316 with one home run and 4 rbis in 18 games, switching between 3rd and 2nd base defensively.

Strengths: Ty Kelly's biggest asset offensively is his ability to hit for a high average from both sides of the plate. Kelly has a very compact swing with good balance, which allows him to hit effectively to all fields. Ty has shown the ability to hit the occasional home run, but he could develop into a doubles machine in the Brian Roberts mold (however with slightly less speed). Ty Kelly is also a very versatile defender, having played at shortstop, third, and second base in college and his early pro career (not to mention playing center field in the Cape Cod league this past summer). His excellent defensive instincts should smooth his professional development significantly.

Weaknesses: The major drawback to Tyler's skill set is that he has below average power, and doesn't project to improve on that significantly. This limits his potential to play outfield and third base regularly in the majors, and really relegates him to second base. He's also limited by what most would term only an average arm defensively, which again pegs him at second rather than at third base (which is a huge need for the Orioles organization). Another point that Ty will have to work on is his ability to draw walks and manufacture extra bases; if he's going to be an impact player with his bat, his on base percentage and baserunning will have to improve.

Projection: The key in Ty Kelly's development will be where the organization feels he is at with respect to the development of L.J. Hoes. If Hoes starts at Delmarva I expect Kelly to be at Frederick, or vice-versa. I believe that in the end the Orioles see Kelly as a second baseman (just speculation, I don't have inside information), and I don't think they want one to be playing and the other one warming the bench. I wouldn't be surprised at all, given the relative ages, for Kelly to start next year at Frederick. If he continues to excel and his development stays on track, he should be in the 2nd base discussion at end of Brian Roberts' contract.

[Photo Credit: UC-Davis Athletics]

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