Former Boston Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly has re-signed with the LG Twins of the KBO, per Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (via Twitter). Kelly returns to LG’s rotation for $1.4MM. The contract amount had previously been reported to be a little higher, though the bigger news is that the deal now appears to be official.
Kelly was a consensus top prospect after being a first round pick of the Red Sox in 2008. Baseball America ranked him as baseball’s #24-ranked prospect prior to 2010. Around that time, he was included as a key piece of the trade (along with Anthony Rizzo) that brought Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres to the Red Sox. With the Padres, Kelly continued to rank among the best prospects in the game, appearing at #31, #76, and #45 in three subsequent seasons.
The Florida native debuted in 2012 with six starts, but Tommy John surgery early in 2013 wiped out his season. He didn’t return to the Majors until 2015, eventually seeing spot appearances for the Braves and finally the Giants in 2018. In total, he logged 85 2/3 innings spread across four seasons from 2012 to 2018 with a 5.46 ERA/4.43 FIP.
The former top prospect has found new life in the KBO, where he’s posted a 2.93 ERA in 353 2/3 innings across two seasons in the Twins’ rotation. Kelly helped the LG Twins to the playoffs this year, going 15-7 in 28 starts with a 3.32 ERA, 7.0 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. Kelly led Twins’ starters in starts, wins, innings, WHIP, strikeouts, and walk rate. Kelly went seven innings with two earned runs, three hits, one walk, and 10 strikeouts in a playoff start against the Kiwoon Heroes. The Twins won that game in 13 innings, advancing to the next round where they’d be swept by the Doosan Bears.
The 31-year-old is definitely a candidate to keep an eye on, should he desire to return stateside after this season. Miles Mikolas, Merrill Kelly, Pierce Johnson, Eric Thames, and others have set a trend of establishing themselves abroad after meandering or false-started development years in the States. Matter of fact, in the Twins’ final game of the season, they were shut out over six innings by Chris Flexen, the most recent player to return stateside after a successful stint overseas.
If Flexen shines with the Mariners and Kelly posts another strong campaign in the KBO, he could return to an intrigued marketplace, should that be his desire. Keep an eye on Kelly, as he could become an interesting name to add to next year’s crop of free agent starters.
Please forgive my ignorance here… I’ve lost touch a little bit in the last few years…
Of those who have gone from MLB to Korea or Japan and then back again, has anybody done exceptionally well upon their return to MLB? Thanks in advance!
Exceptional? No HOFers, but certainly successes. Thames hit more than 30 HRs his first season back and listed a 118 OPS+ over his first three seasons. Mikolas led the NL in wins, posting a 2.83 ERA and made the All-Star team.
Mikolas played in Japan, not Korea.
2 quick ones come to mind in Mikolas and Eric Thames in recent years, but I think both were in Japan not KBO
Thames was KBO.
Thames came back from Korea and Mikolas came back from Japan.
Cecil Fielder became a star after returning from Japan. Admittedly, a long time ago.
50 HR’s in 1990 back when teams didn’t have 3 or 4 players hitting 30+ home runs in every lineup
How can we forget Prince Fielder too?
Players who are exceptional talents generally don’t leave MLB to go overseas, so we are looking at a talent pool of guys who were fringe players or injury reclamation projects in the first place.
Ryan Vogelsong came back from Japan and performed very well for the Giants. His stats aren’t great on paper but he was a gritty pitcher who performed very well in the 2012 and 2014 postseasons in which the Giants won the WS. He was also a Giants-faithful favorite (not that is a factor in terms of his ability to pitch).
arthur blank_for owner
Jack Elliot of the Japan Dragons….(aka Tom Selleck lol)
I Beg To Differ
Really? No mention of him being a former Padres prospect considering he spent more time with their system than the Red Sox after being part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade?
Only spent 2 years in the Red Sox organization. 5 in the Padres.
I Beg To Differ
Nvm i saw it later. must have missed it the 1st time. my bad.
Casey Kelly is forever recognized as a Red Sox, touted by fans as their future CY Young Award winner, only then to be traded.
I remember how much hype there was over, hence why I saw his name I had to click!
One thing about the Asian leagues that can be beneficial for any player is playing time. Getting 500+ at bats albeit with lower competition can still get guys on the right track and get them more confident. Thames probably never would have blossomed had he not gone overseas.
Some Padres fans did the same: “future Cy Young!”
Superstar Car Wash
Do they have sabermetrics in Korean baseball? It only lists his wins, ERA, and other stats from the olden days. What was his WAR, FIP, and other sabetmetric stats so I know if he is good or not?
If this is sarcasm, it’s great. If not, well…
Both responses made me laugh.
With those numbers he couldn’t get $5 million from the Mariners?
Casey Kelly is getting $1.4 million in Korea and pitching great. Good for him! It was a great decision to be successful there!!
“Kelly helped the LG Twins to the playoffs this year, going 15-7 in 28 starts with a 3.32 ERA, 7.0 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.” I do not know if that makes him successful here? If he likes it there his chances of making more money and having a longer career there are probably better than taking the risk that he would be successful here.
Korea has 52 million people in an area the size of Kentucky. The way of life would be different, but you certainly can not argue that a player who may not have mlb talent can make more there than here.
MLB minimum around $560,000 the first three years followed by arbitration…for an up/down player or one with only AA or AAA talent the earning could make a life altering difference.
Matt Stairsway to heaven
Critical for KT Wiz to keep him for 2021. If they lost him and Rojas Jr. it would have made for a longgggg 2021 season. Should be interesting to see who they target for an international signing to fill Rojas Jr. slot