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Levi Kelly Opens Eyes At Summer Camp

Levi Kelly took the ball just twice, but it was enough to thrust him into the conversation for the title of most eye-opening prospect at D-backs summer camp in July.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound righthander, already one of the club’s more intriguing pitching prospects, showed off electrifying stuff in each outing, tossing a combined five shutout innings with no walks and eight strikeouts.

Kelly spent the 2019 season at low Class A Kane County, posting a 2.15 ERA with 126 strikeouts and 39 walks in 100.1 innings.

The 2018 eighth-round pick did not look intimidated facing a lineup in camp that included established big leaguers Nick Ahmed, Jake Lamb and Carson Kelly.

“His mentality is, 'I’ve got really good stuff. I don’t care who you are, come hit it,' " D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye said.

Pitching as a starter last season, the 21-year-old sat mostly in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. During camp, however, he was routinely in the 95-97 mph range.

D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said Kelly also has shown improvement with his command and his secondary stuff, turning his curveball and split-changeup into weapons to go along with his plus slider.

“Both were kind of non-factors for him last year and now they’re above-average pitches that he’s added to his arsenal,” Barfield said. “He’s gone from a two-pitch guy to a four-pitch guy with a bump in velocity.”

Whether Kelly can hold that velocity over a full season is a question that won’t be answered this year. But if the rest of Kelly’s improvements are here to stay, there likely will be fewer people questioning his future role. Some scouts believe, in part because of some aggression in his delivery, that Kelly is likely ticketed for the bullpen.

“The drive that he has is different,” Barfield said. “He wants to be a starter and a really good one for a long time. I’m never going to bet against somebody with the work ethic and competitiveness that he has. You put his talent with that, that’s a very dangerous combination.”


— Catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho had a tremendous summer camp, swinging the bat well and looking capable both behind the plate and in the outfield. Varsho did not initially break camp with the team, but was called up on July 30.

— Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo and righthander Luis Frias, two of the club’s better prospects, missed time during camp for unspecified reasons. Neither played in a game at Chase Field during camp, though they were said to be working out at the D-backs' alternate site at Salt River Fields.

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