Every Cardinals fan has heard of Carson Kelly, the 23-year-old catcher who was tearing it up in Triple-A Memphis. He got called up back on July 20 and has been playing every so often, to give Yadier Molina a break. Kelly has been ranked a top prospect, but since coming up the MLB, he has been less than impressive.
Kelly has played in 14 games so far this season, batting .143 with 4 hits, and is -0.2 WAR (wins above replacement). This is not quite what fans expected, since he was batting .283 with 69 hits in 68 games with the Memphis Redbirds. Like any other player, he has been making some good plays and had a few good ABs. If he were able to get more time behind the plate and a few more at-bats, maybe the Carson Kelly from Memphis would show up more consistently.
One of the issues with having Kelly play behind Yadi is that he’s still young, he is at an age where he needs to be playing every day. Of course he is learning from the best, but one cannot help but wonder if he is suffering by not playing everyday. Yadi said himself that he trains to play 174 games, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for a rookie to establish himself in the MLB.
The easiest solution would have been for Kelly to go back to Memphis to continue playing and improving after struggling in the big leagues. Unfortunately, without him, there are no other backup catchers. Earlier in the season, the Cardinals had Eric Fryer as their back up catcher, but he was designated for assignment before electing free agency back in the end of July.
Fans have to wonder how this is all going to affect the Cardinals race for the division title, which keeps getting closer and closer before sliding just out of reach. If Kelly can get into a groove and start hitting consistently, he could prove himself to be a worthy replacement for Yadi. Otherwise, the Cardinals will need to figure a more suitable backup catcher. Kelly has shown true potential, but in a tight race to the playoffs, potential might not be enough.