Not yet 23, Kelly has emerged as the catcher the Cardinals have craved—the young, solid glove who in the coming years could complement fixture Molina before eventually replacing the face of the franchise.
Before he debuted with a double in his first big league at-bat, Kelly had the offensive breakthrough expected at Double-A Springfield. Freed from the pitcher-friendly environs of the Florida State League, Kelly hit .289/.338/.403 in Springfield, and that earned him a promotion to Triple-A Memphis for 32 games. There he hit .292/.352/.381.
Kelly earned an appearance in the Futures Game, where had a home run stolen from him by a catch over the wall, and an invitation to the Arizona Fall League. If he goes there, that will help him build momentum for spring, when he'll have an outside chance to compete for the backup job.