They say that prospects who don't struggle in the minors are more likely to end up stumbling once they reach the majors; you can't learn, after all, if there's nothing to learn from.
So lets call today a significant learning experience for Casey Kelly. One he had to have live in front of a television audience.
Things looked really good to start for Kelly, who retired the first 3 batters on less than 10 pitches, inducing two grounders and getting a swinging strikeout from leadoff man Ben Revere. The 2nd inning was an entirely different story.
To be fair, Kelly did not receive a lot of help from his defense. The 5-run 2nd saw the following:
Ryan Kalish diving and missing a sinking liner. Tough play, but allowed 2 bases instead of one. Also a very weak throw on a sacrifice fly.
- A sore Che-Hsuan Lin take an ugly path on a "fliner".
- Ray Chang come up short on a not-too-hard grounder.
- Anthony Rizzo lackadaisically wait on a grounder to first...and then lose the foot race to Ben Revere.
- Chih-Hsien Chang bungle a play in left.
No errors, technically, but it was not pretty. Still, an unimpressive inning from Kelly, who allowed 6 straight hits, seemed to struggle to put batters away, and became predictable when facing 2-and-3 ball counts.
Still, Kelly's secondary pitches can be things of beauty at times, and if he learns to mix those offerings in better and to introduce more variety with his fastball (too many of them middle-away), he'll be able to introduce a Buchholz-like element of never knowing what's coming.
For a 20-year-old in AA pitching his first full professional season out of high-school (he split time in 2009, remember), Kelly is allowed his bad outings.