The Boston Red Sox must turn over every rock to stabilize their bullpen for 2020. One possibility is admitted long-shot Trevor Kelly.
Sifting through the flotsam of the Red Sox roster for pitching is a daunting task especially home developed help. The Red Sox roster is glutted with high-priced talent simply over lack of development or just plain bad luck by baseball operations. There is one player making an impact at Triple-A who could surface in the bullpen.
Trevor Kelley is not the type of attention-getting talent when you are drafted in the 36th round as Kelley was in 2015, but corralling a $1,000 bonus – a good week for Johnny at Burger King money. The right-hander was a product of North Carolina where for three seasons Kelley was a bullpen specialist a task he has carried over to his professional career. Kelley has never started a game either in the ACC or professional ranks.
Kelley is not unknown to the majors as earlier Kelley was called up and appeared in one forgettable game tossing an inning and allowing three runs. A less than auspicious introduction to The Show. That disaster has been the opposite at Pawtucket (AAA) where the soon to be 27-year-old leads the International League (IL) in saves with 12 and posts a 5-5 record with a 1.93 earned run average.
Kelley firmly falls into the Rodney Dangerfield “no respect” department with scouting not even being listed as a top 30 on MLB Prospect Watch and ignored by Sox Prospects. One issue is Kelley’s lack of a dominating fastball, a second is a questionable ability against lefties, and a third is his basic mechanics. Someone must have been impressed enough to have Kelley placed on the 40-man roster.
Can Kelley help? Looking at Kelley’s draft status it is somewhat surprising that he has advanced this far since patience is generally not extended to players selected in the lower rounds. That said Kelley has made it to the majors not even for the coffee but to just look at the cup. I have a tendency to be dismissive of the speed prejudice that currently infiltrates baseball pitching. Good thing the Red Sox were not dismissive of Keith Foulke and his non-fastball.
The reality, however, is in place that Kelley has a laborious climb ahead of him despite being an IL All-Star and his performance at Triple-A. A plus for Kelley is his ability to limit walks with a career (minors) 2.6 BB/9 and to toss multiple innings. The minus is despite his performance in the IL the roster depth chart has a few more likely candidates.
Kelley may be a call up in September and get some pitching opportunities as the Red Sox slowly watch their playoff chances ebb away. Those innings could define Kelley’s future within the organization as an MLB contributor or a 4A player.