Oct 16, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a glove and baseball during batting practice prior to game one of the ALCS between the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
C/1B Juan Francisco (Feliz) Kelly, 21 years old, Bluefield
- 5’10” 155 lbs, Bats Both, Signed as an international free agent 11 Jan ’12, from DO
If I told you that a catcher was able to manage 10 extra base hits in only 71 PA while still managing a .366 OBP, would you be interested? Well, that’s what Kelly was able to produce in Lansing in 2015, all while throwing out a third of would-be-base stealers and holding a perfect fielding percentage. Now if I add that he weighs in at 155 lbs and measures 5’10”, how does it change your state of mind? It shouldn’t, but of course as with all prospects, it does.
While in Vancouver, Kelly mostly played 1B and was able to prove he can handle the position very well. He also has previous experience at 3B (9 games), giving him so flexibility around the infield. It’s something he emphasized that he enjoys doing. Brian Crawford of Jays Prospects provides us with this quote from Kelly, “I really enjoy playing multiple positions,” and added:
"“It breaks up the monotony of playing in one spot all the time. I have days where the team has me catch a game and then the next day they ask me to play first base. I really like that aspect of my game.”"
When you talk about someone punching above their weight, Kelly is the prime example, and he’s getting noticed for all of his hard work. The Blue Jays named him the GCL rookie level M.V.P. for his work in 2014, outdoing guys like Sean Reid-Foley, Lane Thomas, and Freddy Rodriguez to name a few. Yet, all of those mentioned and others get mentioned and noted more often as prominent Jays prospects.
When he got to Lansing, he managed to impress everyone with his first hit as a Lugnut:
"“20-year-old Juan Kelly‘s first Midwest League hit was a tie-breaking home run in the 15th inning, helping the Lansing Lugnuts (9-6, 51-34) to a epic 6-5 victory over the Great Lakes Loons (5-10, 43-40) late Thursday night at Dow Diamond.”"
If that’s not enough to get you thinking of Juan Kelly as a prominent Jays prospect, here are a few things to like about his 2015 season:
- Kelly hit .273/.347/.409 with 2 outs and RISP (49 PA)
- Hit .261/.360/.401 against RHP
- Managed 8 extra base hits over his last 73 AB with a line of .260/.349/.397
- Had an impressive 161 wRC+ while with the Lugnuts
- His .906 OPS and .413 wOBA while with the Lugnuts were equally impressive
What I like most of all about Kelly is his leadership abilities and willingness to do whatever it takes to get himself on the field. He has a ton of heart and loves to play the game. That’s something you can’t teach someone and it goes very far when things aren’t going so well numbers wise. The effort remains, the turnaround is quicker, and generally speaking that kind of player isn’t going to weigh others down when he struggles.
Next: Next, a SS that's raw as the come, but has the tools...