In his first game action since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery 11 months ago Stephen Strasburg allowed one run in 1.2 innings at Single-A yesterday, throwing 25 of 30 pitches for strikes and striking out four of the eight batters he faced.
Pitchers often need time to rediscover their peak velocity following Tommy John surgery, but Strasburg’s fastball was clocked in the high-90s and the former No. 1 overall pick told the Associated Press afterward that he “kind of just got that feeling back real quick” thanks in part to adrenaline.
Strasburg even suggested that his post-surgery mechanics feel better and more efficient, telling the AP:
It honestly does. I get on top of the ball a lot better. I’m able to drive the ball down into the zone a lot better, a lot more efficiency. Before, I just wasn’t in as good a shape. I think the biggest reason I broke down is because I just got tired. I wasn’t necessarily prepared for a full season.
He’s scheduled to start again in the minors Friday, at which point the Nationals will probably go against Rob Dibble’s sage advice and map out a timetable his return to the majors in September.
We wrote a lot about Casey Kelly on this site circa 2010-12.
It was understandable. Kelly was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors, with some people even wondering if he could do it full time. The Sox put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, as he became the top overall prospect in the Boston organization as a pitcher. He then made news when he was sent to San Diego — along with Anthony Rizzo — in the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade in December 2010.
He made his big league debut for the Padres in late August of 2012, holding a pretty darn good Atlanta Braves team scoreless for six innings, striking out four. He would pitch in five more games in the season’s final month to not very good results but missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 thanks to Tommy John surgery.
He wouldn’t make it back to the bigs until 2015 — pitching only three games after being converted to a reliever — before the Padres cut him loose, trading him to the Braves for Christian Bethancourt who, like a younger Kelly, the Padres thought could be a two-way player, catching and relieving. That didn’t work for him either, but I digress.
Kelly made a career-high ten appearances for a bad Braves team in 2016, was let go following the season and was out of the majors again in 2017 after the Cubs released him a couple of months after he failed to make the team out of spring training. He resurfaced with the Giants this past season for seven appearances. The Giants cut him loose last month.
Now Kelly’s journey takes him across the ocean. He announced on Instagram last night that he’s signed with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization. He seems pretty happy and eager about it in his little video there. I don’t blame him, as he’ll make $1 million for them, as opposed to staying here and almost certainly winding up in a Triple-A rotation making $60K or whatever it is veteran minor leaguers make.
This was probably way too many words to devote to a journeyman heading to play in Korea, but we so often forget top prospects once they fail to meet expectations. We also tend to forget all of the Tommy John casualties, focusing instead on the Tommy John successes. As such, I wanted to think a bit about Casey Kelly. I hope things work out well for him in the KBO and a baseball player who once seemed so promising can, after a delay, find success of his own.