Jared Kelley’s encouraging 2022 debut took place in a road game against Down East at a ballpark that does not stream its games.
In front of cameras back home in Kannapolis, his first viewable start of the season looked like so many from his ugly 2021 debut. He lasted only 1⅔ innings, giving up six runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks over the course of 52 pitches.
You wouldn’t liken Kelley to Dallas Keuchel in most ways, but despite Kelley being a big, hard-throwing righty, the general idea is the same during his starts, in the sense that the defense shouldn’t want to do anything to throw him off track.
Kelley dealt with sketchy glovework during a three-run first. On the other hand, the defense tried to bail him out in the second, and four more runs were added to his tab. It was that kind of evening.
Kelley’s start opened with Wilfred Veras committing a throwing error on a weak chopper to third, but he got one strikeout with a high fastball, then another one on a slider. The third out proved elusive. First, James Beard couldn’t flag down a drive to the gap with two strikes — it wasn’t the most direct route, yet Beard’s speed might’ve made it seem closer than the average center fielder could’ve made it — and that drove in the first of three Fredericksburg runs. Leandro Emiliani then turned on a first-pitch slider and lined it over the wall in right to make it a 3-0 hole.
The misses grew in frequency afterward. Kelley issued a two-out walk in the first, then a pair of free passes to start the second. Both of those walks were erased on caught stealing, and yet Kelley still gave up four runs. He gave up a muscled single to center with two outs, issued a walk, then gave up a 10-hopper through the vacated right side to make it a 4-0 game.
That’s when Kelley departed, and two of the runners he left for Everhett Hazelwood crossed the plate before the final out.
Kelley’s stuff looked better than the line indicated. He packed nine swinging strikes into his short start, and while the fastball velocities were infrequently relayed by the broadcast, the ones cited ranged from 95 to 97. It was certainly better than the last time we saw him in 2021, when his fastball sat in the low 90s and he never looked comfortable with any pitch. He actually looked like he had some idea of what he was doing this time around, but the FredNats kept at-bats alive long enough for Kelley to crack. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kelley’s 2022 looks a lot like Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist’s rides last season, where every step forward was canceled by a step back.
Nashville 12, Charlotte 2
- Romy Gonzalez singled, walked twice and struck out twice.
- Carlos Pérez went 1-for-5.
- Micker Adolfo, 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
- Kade McClure: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
- A step back for Tyler Johnson: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 14 of 30 pitches for strikes.
*The home run McClure allowed was an inside-the-park grand slam that would’ve been a double down the line under ordinary circumstances, but Mark Payton argued that it got hung up in the Nashville bullpen and lost.
Biloxi 6, Birmingham 5
- Yolbert Sánchez went 1-for-5 with a strikeout.
- Lenyn Sosa, 2-for-4 with a sac fly.
- Yoelqui Céspedes was 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
- José Rodríguez’s hitting streak ended at eight games by going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Winston-Salem 10, Greenville 4
- Oscar Colás went 2-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts.
- Adam Hackenberg hit his third homer during a 2-for-5 night.
- Harvin Mendoza was 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout.
Fredericksburg 12, Kannapolis 5
- James Beard went 1-for-5 with a strikeout.
- DJ Gladney was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Wilfred Veras, 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
- Jared Kelley: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
I like the cut if Hackenberg’s jib. Could he be a legit catching prospect?