SoxProspects News

July 26, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Q&A with Casey Kelly


As the first half of Casey Kelly's full-season pitching debut wound to a close, many people were alarmed by what they saw. The 20-year-old was hardly recreating last year's dominance from the rubber, checking in at the All-Star break with an ERA over 5.00 for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. But as we noted in last week's ESPNBoston article, the young righty has made several adjustments to his arsenal and worked through tough situations in a much older league. But now the transition period is over. With 13 strikeouts in 12 innings and just 3 runs allowed in 2 starts since the break, Kelly seems poised to finish 2010 on a high note. Jon Meoli had a chance to talk with Kelly as the Sea Dogs came back from the All-Star break earlier this month to discuss his season so far.

Jon Meoli: There’s been a lot written recently about how well this season has been going for you despite the stats, almost to point of trying to justify the stats to the fan base. Have you had to do any of that for yourself?

Casey Kelly: I think if you let all of that in, it can really create a problem. For me, it’s important to go out there and pitch every fifth day and compete with my team. My teammates are all trying and I’m trying out there, so I just try to take the positives.

JM: Without the benefit of hindsight, what were your expectations coming into this season? Did you expect to have the same kind of success as you did last year?

CK: I really didn’t have any expectations coming in. Having it be my first full year pitching and being in Double-A was kind of exciting in itself, but there really was no expectation. My only expectation was to come here and learn a lot and become a better pitcher, and I think this half of the season I’ve done that.

JM: Mentally and physically, how have you found that preparing as a pitcher this season has helped you so far?

CK: It’s been good. My workouts in the off-season have definitely helped me get to the half-way-point of the season, and I still feel fresh. You can get worn down and feel tired, but I think I go out there every five days, feel 100%, and feel good every start.

JM: There have been a lot of reports of a rise in your velocity this season. Have you had to make any adjustments to compensate for that?

CK: It’s definitely been different. I’ve never thrown this hard in my career, but you have to control it. My curveball is a lot better this year, and so is my changeup, so it’s just about handling all of those pitches and going through the bumps in the road that will ultimately make me a better pitcher.

JM: Can you talk about the progression you’ve had with your curveball and your changeup so far this season?

CK: My stuff this year is a lot better than it was last year, and I think the first half of the year was me learning how to control both of those. I’m trying to throw them in the zone and start my curveball a little higher so that it drops in for strikes, because throwing a strikeout curveball is a lot different from throwing it early in the count for strikes. I think both of those pitches have really come a long way in terms of throwing them for strikes.

JM: I’ve seen a pretty wide range of velocities on the curveball, but you’re saying it’s just a matter of where in the count you throw it?

CK: Yea, they’re the same pitch, but early in the count I just want to throw it for a strike. If they swing and I can get a ground ball, then that’s great, but my main concern is throwing strikes. When you get into situations where it’s 0-2, 1-2, I try to throw the two-strike curveball. You really need to have two different ones depending on the situation.

JM:. In the category of “bumps in the road”, I think it’s fair to assume that you didn’t face a ton of adversity on the field while you were coming up as an amateur, and even in your first year on the mound as a professional. From April to now, how have you improved the manner in which you deal with adversity?

CK: In baseball, you’re going to go through times where you deal with failure and you’re going to go through times when you feel good out there and things don’t go your way. It’s how you deal with it that matters. You have to be the same guy every day. You can’t get too high after good outings or too low after bad ones. I think the difference between good players and great players is that good players let slumps last a month and great players let them last a week, so it’s all about how you react to those bumps.

JM: Looking ahead to the second half, is there anything specific that you hope to improve on?

CK: For me, it’s really a matter of going out and doing the same thing I have been doing. I definitely think I’m a better pitcher now than I was at the beginning of the season, and towards the end of the year I’m going to be putting up the numbers that I thought I might put up. Everything will kind of equal itself out.

JM: In the offseason, there was a lot of buzz about you being in the Boston bullpen by September. Do you feel any added pressure with all of the accolades and recognition that come your way?

CK: I don’t feel that much added pressure. I’m in Portland right now, and if I pitch well and they call me up to Pawtucket, then that’s what happens. I think you can always just try to think about things on a day-to-day basis. I’m here in Maine playing for the Sea Dogs. I love it here and I’m having a great time playing with my teammates. Whatever happens, happens.

JM: Now that you’ve been in Portland for what’s shaping up to be an entire season, have you found it easier than all of the jumping around you did last season?

CK: Last year was a lot of fun. Being able to play in Greenville and Salem, and then going back to Ft. Myers and Greenville really kept me guessing. I never knew where I was going to go, but I feel like I had great success last year with everything that happened. It was a cool year, but this year is different. I’m staying in the same place for the majority of the year, but for me, every season is different and you have to take it the way it is. I’m very happy to be in Portland right now.

JM: You’ve been with the organization for almost two years now. Have any teammates been particularly impressive along the way?

CK: Everybody has been great to me. The teammates I had last year in Greenville and Salem, everyone was awesome. I don’t think I can pick out just one guy. I’ve become close with a lot of people in this organization. It’s definitely a top-of-the-line organization with top-of-the-line players. Everyone knows how to be professional and all of the guys go about their business the right way.

JM: This time last year, you were at the Futures Game. What’s it like to see some of those guys you shared a locker room with already contributing at the big-league level?

CK: It’s awesome. To be able to be on the same team as them was a tremendous honor, and it’s cool to see people you know get up to the big-league level and compete every day.

JM: Last, what do you like to do off the field?

CK: I love to play video games. I’m a big FIFA player, and I love going to the beach back home. I like traveling, too. Last year I traveled to Arizona and Puerto Rico, I just really enjoyed getting to travel and seeing those different places.

 
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