Another rough outing for Kelly

Given that he’s 21 and just finishing off his first full season as a pitcher, statistics are not the best way to evaluate the progress of Casey Kelly.

But there’s not much escaping the fact that in four starts in the Arizona Fall League, Kelly has allowed 12 earned runs on 14 hits over 14 innings.

He gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits in five innings today against Surprise. Kelly has surrendered 11 earned runs on 13 hits in his last seven innings.

In talking to Theo Epstein and Mike Hazen of the Sox and scouts from other teams, they rave about Kelly’s stuff and how much he improved as a pitcher. The statistics, they say, are a result of his pitching against players with more experience than he has. Kelly was one of the youngest pitchers in the Eastern League this season and now in the AFL he’s facing hitters on the cusp on the majors.

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There are two ways to look at it:

1. These experiences are going to make him better in the long run and by the time he’s 23, the Sox could have a star on their hands.

2. Kelly is perhaps not what they hoped and trading him this winter should not be out of the question.

I’m going with No. 1. Clay Buchholz is Exhibit A that you have to be patient with young starters and ride out the ups and downs because the reward is so significant. The unquestioned key to building a championship team is pitching and the most valuable commodity in baseball is a cost-controlled young starter.

If Kelly gets his innings in and stays healthy, his statistics in Arizona border on the meaningless.

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