Carson Kelly: The Heir Not-So Apparent

Carson Kelly: The Heir Not-So Apparent

With the recent Carson Kelly demotion, fans are up in arms about the Cardinals not trading the potential future catcher. They also are already declaring him a bust.

Every franchise in Major League Baseball has its icons. Icons are different than stars or even superstars. Icons are the proverbial “Face of the Franchise”. They are the guys everyone else wants to be like.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina is one such player. He’s the face of this ball club. Yadi is the coach on the field, the heart that pumps the blood, the glue that holds it all together.

Yadi is also one of the best to ever play his position. He is an eight-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove recipient, four-time Platinum Glove recipient, two-time World Series Champion and was twice selected to the All-World Baseball Classic team.

Arguably he is the best defensive catcher ever. He is also coming to the end of his illustrious career, leaving the Cardinals with the unenviable task of trying to replace an icon and future Hall of Famer.

Enter Carson Kelly. Not drafted as a catcher, he has quickly become one of the top catching prospects in the game. The tools are there. The talent is there. However, Yadi’s shoes are pretty big ones to fill.

Top prospects often feel the pressure of living up to expectations. Sometimes those expectations are warranted. Other times they are not. In Kelly’s case, maybe we ought to pump the brakes just a little bit.

The Twitter world was lit up when news of Carson Kelly’s reassignment to the AAA club was announced. There were calls for Carson Kelly to be traded.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ fan base has grown increasingly impatient in recent years. It isn’t difficult to understand why either. After experiencing unrivaled success for more than a decade, they have watched their biggest rival top them for three straight years. No Cardinals fan wants to play second fiddle to the Cubs.

It isn’t Carson’s fault the Cubs are that good. It isn’t even his fault that he has to play the part of rebound girlfriend to the St. Louis fan base when Yadi retires.

READ: Ray Lankford: A Childhood Hero and Cardinals’ Hall of Famer

All Carson can do is be himself. He’s pretty good too. Consider the numbers. He had a .283 BA last season in Memphis to go along with 10 HR and 41 RBI in 280 trips to the plate. Not terrible at all.

Yadi hit for a .302 BA with 1 HR and 14 RBI in his lone season in AAA. He also only hit for a .267 BA his first year in the majors. Kelly’s hit tool isn’t as advanced, but he has more power. Kelly has also had to learn the position on the job. He was drafted as a third baseman. The Cardinals saw his potential and shifted him to the catcher position.

Just because Carson Kelly got sent back to the minors to start the season doesn’t mean he won’t be ready to take over for Yadi. It just means that he isn’t ready yet.

At only 23 years of age to start the season, Carson Kelly has plenty of time to continue developing into a complete player. He can’t do that riding the bench in St. Louis.

The Cardinals brass has made it known that they think highly of Carson Kelly. Manager Mike Matheny has already been clear that sending Kelly back to the minors hasn’t changed their outlook on him. Derrick Goold tells the story.

The point is, this Carson kid is going to be really good one day. There’s no reason to rush him up now, especially with Yadi still around. It makes sense to let Kelly spend more time in AAA where he can play every day. I mean really, he isn’t going to start ahead of Yadi. So why waste valuable time and at-bats on the bench?

Carson Kelly has blossomed into one of the top catching prospects in the game. Chances are he will be very good for a long time. So let’s hold off on the trade talk for now. When the time is right, Carson will be ready. He doesn’t have to become an icon. He just has to replace one.

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