Carson Franklin Kelly
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 220 lb.
- School Oregon State University
- High School Westview High School (Beaverton)
- Debut September 5, 2016
Catcher Carson Kelly was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round of the 2012 amateur draft, out of high school. He began his pro career that year with the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League and began to move up the organizational ladder slowly but steadily over the next few seasons. In 2016 he took some major steps forward, playing for the first time at AA, AAA and at the major league level after a September call-up.
Kelly doubled off Antonio Bastardo of the Pittsburgh Pirates in his first major league at-bat on September 5, 2016. He later came in to score on another double, by Randal Grichuk. He had come in as a defensive replacement for catcher Yadier Molina in the 7th inning. He hit .154 in 10 games that season, then in 2017, he hit .174 in 34 games as a back-up to Molina. Both years, he spent the bulk of his time in the minors. In 2016, he split his time between the AA Springfield Cardinals and the AAA Memphis Redbirds, hitting .289 in 96 games, with 6 homers and 32 RBIs. In 2017, he played 68 games for Memphis, hitting .283 with 10 homers and 41 at-bats.
In 2018, he started the season in AAA with Molina still firmly entrenched as the starter and the Cards preferring that Kelly receive regular playing time in the minors than sit on the bench in St. Louis. Veteran back-up Francisco Pena took the second catching slot in the majors. He was hitting .234 after 21 games when on May 6th he was called up when Molina went on the disabled list. He went 2 for 19 in 8 games before having to join Molina on the injured list on May 17th, victim of a hamstring strain. That left the Cards perilously short of experienced catchers at the major league level. Overall he played just 19 games in the majors, hitting just .114 with no homers and 3 RBIs. With Memphis, he played 83 games and hit .269/.378/.395 with 7 homers and 41 RBIs. Following the season, still blocked by Molina for the foreseeable future, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks along with two other young players - P Luke Weaver and IF Andy Young - and a Compensation Round B pick in the 2019 amateur draft in return for All-Star 1B Paul Goldschmidt.
His first at-bat with the Diamondbacks was a memorable one. It came in the team's second game of the season, on March 29, 2019 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did not start the game, but came in as a pinch-hitter in a 13-inning marathon and delivered the game-winning hit, a double off Yimi Garcia that scored Nick Ahmed, who had walked and stolen second base, for a 5-4 win. He was at it again on April 6th when his 9th-inning hit off Colten Brewer of the Boston Red Sox drove in Nick Ahmed from second for a 5-4 win. It was his third RBI of the night.
Although he was signed out of high school, Kelly promised his parents he would still pursue a college education. He began taking courses from the Oregon State University in the fall of 2012, with the Cardinals paying for his tuition. He completed a bachelor's degree in economics in the spring of 2018.
- Steve Gilbert: "C. Kelly fills free time by filling his brain: D-backs catcher fulfills promise to parents by earning college degree", mlb.com, March 21, 2019.