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Diamondbacks Game Preview #92: 7/17 @ Padres

The resurrection of Carson Kelly

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Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh Rojas - 3B Jurickson Profar - LF
Alek Thomas - CF Jake Cronenworth - 2B
Ketel Marte - DH Manny Machado - 3B
Christian Walker - 1B Nomar Mazara - RF
David Peralta - LF Luke Voit - DH
Daulton Varsho - RF Eric Hosmer - 1B
Sergio Alcantara - 2B Austin Nola - C
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Trent Grisham - CF
Jose Herrera - C CJ Abrams - SS
Merrill Kelly - RHP Mike Clevinger - RHP

On June 12th, Carson Kelly went 0-for-3 in Philadelphia, reducing his average for the season to just .098. It was his second game back after missing six weeks with a strained left oblique, but Kelly had been struggling since the start of the season. In April, Carson set a new low for batting average to start the season by a Diamondback (min 30 PA), his .102 BA just beating out Cody Ross’s .103 from April 2014. [Though it was still better than fellow catcher Jose Herrera, who hit .100 (2-for-20) in the same month] Rather than looking like the long-term catcher of the future for Arizona, the wretched start to the season had some questioning whether he had a place on the roster.

But after a little while (perhaps still returning to 100% fitness), Kelly began to turn it around. Indeed, over the past three weeks, Ketel Marte may have received more attention, but Carson Kelly has been the most productive hitter on the team, hitting .333/.367/.689 for a 1.056 OPS. Yesterday, he socked a two-run homer, his fourth in his last fourteen games. According to Kelly, “A lot of it is just simplifying. Continuing to work on the process. Don’t get results-oriented. Just continue to do your work every single day. Every at-bat is a new at-bat. Move on to the next one, good or bad.” He has been keeping a journal for the past decade, and found useful information there, by digging into past entries.

“A lot of it is, if it’s something I feel in the cage, or (after Friday night) I’ll go write some stuff about what I felt, and then try to recapture that as much as possible.” Kelly said the ability to put what has gone before, behind him, is important: “The guys that can stay present and see it as a new day, a new opportunity, a new moment, those are the guys that are going to have success. It’s a very difficult game. It’s even harder when you’re beating yourself up over it.” As a result, his average is close to double what it was barely a month ago, though still below the Uecker Line at .189. Under contract for two more years, if Kelly is truly fixed, maybe a contract extension could be discussed?

Related is the lack of decent catching prospects in the Arizona system. There’s Daulton Varsho, of course. Though what we’ve seen this season suggests the team views him as a semi-emergency catcher: he hasn’t started a game behind the place since Carson returned to the roster. Otherwise, pickings are scant. The only catcher in the team’s top 30 prospects on is #15, Adrian Del Castillo. He’s an offense-first catcher, the analysis there saying “There are some reservations about whether he can stick behind the plate long-term.” But he has also struggled at the plate this year, hitting .188 with a .612 OPS for High-A Hillsboro, and is currently on the injured list. Maybe tonight’s draft will help address the farm’s weakness.