Yesterday the Mets demoted rookie Travis d’Arnaud back to Triple-A and, based on manager Terry Collins’ comments, it sounds like the 25-year-old catcher should get comfortable in Las Vegas.
Asked by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York how long d’Arnaud was likely to remain in the minors, Collins replied:
I don’t have a timeframe, but it’s going to take him a while to get it going to where we think it’s, “Hey, look, it’s time to bring him back here.” … It’s very hard. He is our guy coming into spring training, and he’s been our guy since he got called up last year. But he’s a young player who is still learning, still trying to get better.
You weigh the factors of: Is he getting something out of this? Or is it hurting him in the long run to continue to struggle? As I told him last night, “You’re not the reason we’re not scoring, but right now the fingers are being pointed in your direction, which I don’t think is necessarily fair. So right now you’ve got to go get your swing, come back and tear it up like everybody expected.”
d’Arnaud was ranked as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America every season since 2010, including the No. 38 overall spot this year, but now he’s 25 years old with a .189 batting average through 70 career games and seems likely to spend at least the remainder of the first half at Triple-A (where he previously hit .328 with a .990 OPS in 86 games).
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.