Jared Kelley 2020 MLB Draft Profile

Jared Kelley

Jared Kelley is a right-handed pitcher out of Refugio High School in Refugio, Texas. Kelley is expected to be a high first-round pick in the upcoming Major League draft. Despite signing a letter of intent to attend the University of Texas it is expected that Kelley will forgo college and become a pro player.

Kelley is highly regarded as one of the top three high school pitchers in this year’s draft along with Nick Bitsko and Mick Abel. Out of the three Kelley is said to have the best velocity. Kelley is ranked as the 12th best prospect by MLB.COM.

Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year

The accolades for Kelley are far-ranging. He was named the 2019-2020 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. Kelley is now a finalist for the more prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year which will be announced in July. The award is so much more than just being a player. The winner is also recognized for their academic achievements and character on and off the field.

Kelley’s character has undoubtedly played a big part in him being a coveted player in this draft. Aside from his baseball skills he has shown the ability to give back to the community even at such a young age. In 2017 following Hurricane Harvey, Kelley loaded and unloaded supplies and delivered food and clothes to those in need. He also helped to remove debris. Kelley also was a volunteer umpire for the Refugio Little League Baseball Association. He also spent time at Rady’s Children’s Hosptial in San Diego playing baseball with children undergoing treatment.

The ultimate compliment was paid to Kelley by Brett O’Brien who is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Gatorade. “Like former winners before him, Jared embodies everything we look for in an award recipient and we are confident he will have continued success in sports and in life.” Bryce Harper surprised Kelley by informing him of the honor.

Strengths

Jared Kelley stands at 6-foot-3 and hovers around 215 pounds and is a power pitcher in every sense of the word. But he also is a tremendous athlete. During his freshman year, Kelley played football, basketball and also ran track. His high school football coach Jason Herring was quoted as saying had Kelley stuck with football he would be a sure-fire NFL player. Kelley still was getting college football coaches trying to recruit him as a quarterback despite playing baseball full time.

His fastball regularly sits in the mid-’90s but he can also get it up to the high 90’s or triple digits. His changeup sits around the 82 MPH mark and has a good fade and sink. Kelley throws a breaking ball that still needs improvement and an average slider.

Perfect Game describes Kelley’s as having a strong and firm physical build, workhouse starting pitcher build. With a balanced delivery with a long arm stroke in back, lands a bit closed out front and can clear his hips more consistently, very low effort release especially considering his velocity. Kelley has a 65 Fastball and a 60 Change-Up. His slider is only 55 same with his command. But his command is considered good for a hard thrower. His pitching motion is also very fluid and not violent like other power pitchers.

High School Stats

Kelley’s career-high school numbers are eye-popping. He finished with a 32-3 record and a .43 ERA with 23 no-hit appearances. From his Sophmore season to his Senior season Kelley struck out 331 batters in 139 innings pitched. Before the coronavirus halted the world Kelley was 3-0 with 34 strikeouts in 12 hitless innings.

Kelley has put up video game numbers throughout his high school career. Kelley had a great junior season pitching to a .22 ERA with 144 punchouts in 65 innings leading the small school Refugio to the Class 2A Division 1 state title. His performance led him to starting the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Kelley struck out five batters in two innings. He also struck out four batters in two innings in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

Weakness

The one pitch in Kelley’s arsenal that needs work is the breaking ball. During Kelley’s Junior season his breaking ball showed improvement. With basically the entire High School baseball season getting canceled Kelley lost out on the opportunity to further develop the pitch. The spin rate on his breaking ball does suggest there is a lot of upsides once he develops it.

Additionally, Refugio is as small-town as they come with a population of around 2,900. Whether Kelley attends Texas or signs with the major league team that drafts him he would be playing in front of bigger crowds and living amongst a greater number of people. Despite his great character, there could be a huge adjustment period for Kelley.

Kelley is also facing a big step up in competition from playing in the 2A classification which is the second-lowest among Texas public schools. Reportedly the dilemma for Kelley is that if he goes to Texas would his draft stock take a hit playing against better competition? Or is he better off signing with the team that drafts him especially if he is a high draft pick?

MLB Comparison

Jared Kelley has a build and a pitching motion very similar to Roger Clemens. Both Kelley and Clemens are workhorse pitchers and both are Texas boys. This is not to say Kelley will have the same career as the Rocket did. But at 18 years old Kelley already has good size and he could even get bigger.  The way Kelley has dominated his high school competition does resemble the way Clemens dominated baseball during his best seasons.

Refugio, Texas is also the birthplace of Hall of Famer and strikeout king Nolan Ryan. Ryan’s family moved out of Refugio when he was six months old. Kelley’s strikeout numbers do echo what Ryan did in his career. No one is suggesting Kelley will be the next Ryan Express but perhaps there is some magic in the air for players born in Refugio.

One scout compared Kelley’s stuff to a young Chris Paddack. “He is a man amongst boys . . . At the Area Codes he was just toying with guys . . . The last guy who I saw who could pitch fastball/changeup like that was Chris Paddack, and you saw how quick he got to the big leagues—and Kelley has better stuff than Paddack in high school.”

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