Here’s the third in our MLB Draft Profile series. This is the first prep player — a right-handed pitcher, no less — to be profiled. Jared Kelley is the kid, and he’s gonna be a good one.
6’3, 215 pounds
Position: Starting pitcher
DOB: Oct. 3, 2001
Slot recommended bonus (No. 29): $2,424,600
Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and videos.
A decade ago, Kelley would have likely been a Top 5 pick. He still might be. But the risk associated with prep right-handers is almost as high as prep catchers, and as a result, they have fallen down boards come draft day. That may not happen to Kelley, but it’s also the reason he’s on my board because there’s a nonzero chance he makes it to No. 29.
Kelley isn’t like a lot of high school pitchers. Sure, he throws his running fastball in the mid-to-high-90s, but instead of a potentially plus-breaking ball, his best offspeed pitch is a nasty, “disappearing” changeup. It has really good fade and sink and he’ll throw it to both lefties and righties. He does have a breaking ball — a slurvy bender — in the low-80s that will definitely need refinement at the next level. Getting into the right developmental system could determine whether that breaker shapes up and allows him a better chance to reach his ceiling. If that fails, a cutter isn’t out of the question so that he may remain in the starting rotation. This profile sure sounds a lot like Chris Paddack, the Padres’ starter who had a fantastic rookie year in 2019 (which seems like soooo long ago). Where Kelley also excels is on with his delivery and mechanics. It could lead to him having plus-command down the road as his effortlessness on the mound bodes well for his future.
Videos courtesy of Prospects Live, 2080 Baseball and Baseball America.
Kelley will, no doubt, be an over-slot signee for any team that doesn’t take him in the Top 20. If the Dodgers are fortunate enough to select him at No. 29, they’re going to have to go significantly over their almost $2.5 million slot recommended amount to land Kelley (the number I have in mind is $3 million). Having a competitive balance pick acquired in the Kenta Maeda trade could help make this a reality.
Billy Gasparino isn’t completely opposed to drafting a prep player with their first selection. He drafted J.T. Ginn in 2018 (even if he was a bit older for a high schooler) and I’ve heard he was going to pop Daniel Espino at No. 25 last year before Cleveland took him at No. 24. If Kelley is, somehow, there, he’d be a fine risk for the Dodgers to take. He profiles, presently, as a No. 2/3 starter, but that could go even higher if he figures out an above-average or better breaking pitch (and, of course, stays healthy).