In 2004 when Bay Area World Series (BAWS) was born, there were some very talented players who stood out and some who quickly made a name for themselves in college eventually in pro ball. There was Bryan Shaw of Livermore HS (2nd round, D-Backs, current MLB reliever), Brett Jackson of Miramonte HS (1st round, Cubs, current MLB outfielder), Jared Lansford (2nd round, A's) and Matt Long (current Angels prospect) of St. Francis HS, and Tayler Creswell of Deer Valley HS (Giants draft pick). Those players were pretty obviously among the most talented kids at the inaugural BAWS.
However, they weren't the ONLY talented players there. It is fairly easy to spot the players who are the most talented. Kids who have some tools, who have physically matured a little faster than others, they tend to stick out among their peers. However, at a high school event with kids who have just completed their sophomore year, haven't even played a varsity game, identifying the "prospects" gets a little more difficult.
That is why I get great enjoyment when I get an email from a player or parent who participated a long time ago, updating me about how a player is faring, either in pro ball or college ball. Honestly, as much as I love running my event, as much as I love being involved with player and their families and doing anything I can to assist them with their goal of college baseball, I think I get the greatest enjoyment when I get the out of the blue email about a player having success. I got one of those emails the other day, from the father of Ty Kelly.
Who is Ty Kelly? Kelly was a player at BAWS I. He was an infielder, a switch-hitter from St. Mary's HS (Stockton) and he had yet to play varsity baseball when he was invited to BAWS. I can't take credit for scouting him out either. His father got in touch with me about his son and other good players from St. Mary's as I was signing players for BAWS. He convinced me to offer his son a spot, so I did. Did Kelly stand out at BAWS I? I dare say no, he didn't. Was he competitive, was he holding his own even as he was clearly not physically ready yet? Yes. So he came back to BAWS II the next year and all of a sudden he looked like a college prospect. He ended up with a scholarship to UC Davis and has a real nice college career.
Did I ever think he was going to be a significant professional prospect? I liked his swing, I liked his game instincts, but no, I didn't think he was a prospect, not based on big tools or anything like that. What I did know is that Kelly was/is a hard working, no nonsense type of kid. He was quietly intense, he was a grinder, he was like the classic analogy of a the appearance of a duck... quiet and calm on the top of the water and paddling like crazy underneath the water, which no one can see.
Kelly was drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 draft, yes, a draft I was part of with the Braves. I did turn Kelly in as a prospect, but simply as an organizational type of player, a player who could fill a utility role and maybe play a few years. Kudos to former Orioles area scout James Keller for having a much better feel for Kelly and for getting him a little earlier than I think most of the other area scouts would have wanted him. Perhaps that is why Keller is now a pro scout for the Birds, he knows the big league game.
It isn't as though Kelly is ready to send Manny Machado to the pine or make J.J. Hardy expendable for the Orioles. He might not even be a threat to Robert Andino at 2nd base. However, he is making waves in the organization and he seems likely to finally get to the big leagues in 2013, as a utility player. He is a switch-hitter, he can play a few defensive positions, he is going to be good in the clubhouse, intense, quiet, a worker, a grinder. He could even end up similar to a player like Daniel Descalso and eventually earn a bigger role with performance dictating his opportunities.
In 2012 Kelly played at three different levels... here is the blurb about his 2012, that was included in that email I got from his dad the other day, about the Orioles Organizational All-Stars (which included Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy, two of the most recognizable prospect names in all the game)...
Utility -- Ty Kelly, Frederick (76 games), Bowie (46 games), Norfolk (11 games): Kelly ended 2011 with Class A Delmarva. Fast forward 12 months and he blitzed his way through three levels to reach Triple-A Norfolk. The 2009 13th-round pick out of Cal-Davis batted .327 with 11 homers and 70 RBIs in 133 games. He walked more often (79) than he struck out (72) and posted an .892 OPS. His 220 total bases led the system while his average was the highest among all Orioles playing full-time in full-season leagues. Kelly batted .346 at Frederick and would have won the Carolina League batting title if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Defensively, Kelly saw time at second base, third base and left field.
Congrats Ty! Hard work pays off, grinding away at a very tough game pays off, keeping your head down and staying the path pays off.