Extra Bases

Now pitching full-time, Casey Kelly

Not a lot of news out of our meeting with Theo Epstein. But there was this: Casey Kelly has decided to pitch full-time.

The 20-year-old informed the team a few days ago that he would give up playing shortstop and devote his time to pitching. Kelly was the 30th overall pick of the 2008 draft and gave up a football scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee to sign with the Sox.

Because of his myriad skills, Kelly was allowed to pitch in the first half of the 2009 season then play shortstop. But as the sides agreed in 2008, Kelly had to decide what he wanted to do this winter.

Theo Epstein, farm director Mike Hazen and Single-A Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina flew to Fort Myers last Monday to meet with Kelly, his father (former major leaguer Pat Kelly), and his agents to discuss the situation.

The Red Sox were thrilled with the decision. Kelly received an invitation to spring training and according to Epstein, could be ready for the majors by the second half of the 2011 season. “He’s special,” he said.

Kelly made a wise choice based on how he has performed in the minors. He was 7-5, 2.08 as a pitcher last season, allowing only 65 hits over 95 innings and striking out 74. He was at .222/.302/.340 as a shortstop.

Pitching is usually a faster route to the majors. The Red Sox also have 19-year-old Jose Iglesias at shortstop.

And, no, they’re not trading him. If Kelly develops the way they think he will, he has a chance to be their ace.


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