Kelly with the New York Mets in 2016
|Born: July 20, 1988|
|May 24, 2016, for the New York Mets|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 23, 2018, for the New York Mets|
|Runs batted in||21|
At the University of California, Davis, Kelly led the Big West Conference with a .397 batting average as a sophomore in 2008. That summer he was a 2008 Cape Cod League All Star. The Baltimore Orioles selected Kelly in the 13th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Kelly was a 2009 New York-Penn League All Star, a 2011 South Atlantic League All Star, a 2012 Carolina League All Star, and a 2013 Eastern League All Star.
The Mets promoted Kelly to the major leagues in his eighth pro season, in 2016, after 855 minor league games, and 3,063 minor league at bats. He was the starting third baseman for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. In April 2017, he was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies, and in January 2018, he signed a contract to return to the Mets.
Kelly was born in Dallas, Texas, the first child of Pat and Diane Kelly. Kelly's father is Catholic, and his mother is Jewish—by virtue of which he qualified to play for Team Israel. His father played both basketball and baseball for the Colorado Buffaloes, before serving as an assistant baseball coach at San Joaquin Delta College. Kelly is a vegan.
Kelly attended St. Mary's High School in Stockton, California, where he played both basketball and baseball, graduating in 2006. In baseball, he batted just under .400 as a senior, and received All-Tri-City Athletic League (TCAL) and all-area honors. In basketball, he was named All-TCAL Defensive Player of the Year.
Kelly played his freshman year of college baseball for the Loyola Marymount Lions. He then transferred to the University of California, Davis, where he majored in Communications in his sophomore and junior years.
Kelly led the Big West Conference with a .397 batting average as a sophomore in 2008, and was # 2 in the Big West Conference in hits, with 94, playing for the Aggies. He helped the Aggies reach the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament in their first year of eligibility.
Kelly was then a 2008 Cape Cod League All-Star. He was on the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List in 2009, and batted .307 with 20 doubles (tied for 3rd in the Conference). His career batting average and hits total rank second and third, respectively, in Aggies history.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Kelly in the 13th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. He began his professional career that year as a third baseman and second baseman, hitting .265 with 33 walks in 61 games for the Short-Season A Aberdeen Ironbirds. He was named a 2009 mid-season New York-Penn League All Star.
In 2010, Kelly played third base and second base for the Class-A Delmarva Shorebirds of the South Atlantic League, he batted .259 with 4 home runs, 58 RBIs, 30 doubles, 68 walks (5th in the league), and 11 sacrifice hits (3rd). In 2011, he batted .274 with 4 home runs, 46 RBIs, and 67 walks (5th in the league) for Delmarva, primarily playing third base and left field. He was named a 2011 mid-season South Atlantic League All Star.
In 2012, he hit .327/.425/.467 with 11 home runs and 70 RBIs split between the Advanced-A Frederick Keys of the Carolina League (for whom Kelly batted .346 (2nd in the league)/.460 (2nd)/.513 (8th) with 54 walks (5th) while primarily playing second base and third base), Double-A Bowie BaySox of the Eastern League (primarily playing third base and left field), and Triple-A Norfolk Tides of the International League (playing second base and third base). He was named Player of the Week in the Carolina League on July 16, 2012. Kelly was named a 2012 mid-season Carolina League All Star. He was named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star in 2012, for both Baltimore and Seattle. For the season, he led Orioles minor-leaguers in hits, batting, and total bases, and was third in RBIs.
In 2013, Kelly hit .283 in 72 games for Bowie before he was traded in June to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Eric Thames. He was named a 2013 mid-season Eastern League All Star. He then batted .320/.456/.406 with 51 walks in 54 games for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. His 5-walk game on August 16, 2013, tied a PCL single-game record.
On the season, he batted .298/.417/.392 and recorded 85 runs, 27 doubles, and 102 walks (second in the minors, behind Greg Bird) in 126 games, hitting .298. He led the minor leagues in fewest swings-per-at-bat (at 30.8%). He was named a 2013 Baseball America High Class A All Star, and a 2013 MiLB.com Organization All-Star for Seattle.
In 2014, he played for Tacoma, batting .263/.381(10th in the league)/.412 with 15 home runs in 134 games as he started 64 games at second base, 36 games at third base, 15 games in right field, and 5 games in left field. Kelly ranked 2nd in the Pacific Coast League with 85 walks (trailing only Joc Pederson of the Dodgers), 8th in runs (81), and in the top 5 in the minor leagues in fewest swings-per-at-bat (at 36.4%). He was named a 2014 MiLB.com Organization All-Star for Seattle.
Kelly was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Sam Gaviglio on November 20, 2014. As a member of the Cardinals organization, he played for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League and batted .203 in 79 games. On July 22, 2015, Kelly was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, and optioned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the International League. He was designated for assignment on August 29, and outrighted to the Bisons on August 31. Kelly played in 117 games in 2015, and batted .226 with 3 home runs and 33 RBIs. He elected free agency on November 7.
In 2016 with the Las Vegas 51s of the Class Triple-A Pacific Coast League, he batted .328/.409/.435. In 2017, with the Buffalo Bisons and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the Class Triple-A International League, he batted a combined .273/.385/.500. In 2018 again with the Las Vegas 51s of the Class Triple-A Pacific Coast League, he batted .259/.348/.416; in August, he had his 1,000th career hit in the minor leagues.
Through the 2018 season, in his minor league career Kelly had played every position other than catcher. He had played 370 games at third base, 333 games at second base, 148 games in left field, 55 games in right field, 35 games in center field, 47 games at shortstop, 4 games at first base, and had pitched a scoreless inning in one Triple-A game.
New York Mets (2016–2017)Edit
The Mets promoted Kelly to the major leagues on May 23, 2016, in his eighth pro season (after 855 minor league games, and 3,063 minor league at bats), to replace an injured Lucas Duda. At the time, he was leading the minor leagues with a .391 batting average and a .478 on base percentage.
Kelly made his major league debut starting at third base against the Washington Nationals on May 24. Kelly hit his first home run against Jameson Taillon on June 8 in Pittsburgh. In 2016, he had a 1.22 walks/strikeout ratio, the best in the major leagues, in 71 plate appearances.
In 2017, he made the New York Mets' opening day roster, and played in one game as a pinch hitter. He was designated for assignment on April 8 in order to make room for pitcher Paul Sewald on the 25-man roster.
Toronto Blue Jays (2017)Edit
On April 10, 2017, the Toronto Blue Jays claimed Kelly off waivers from the New York Mets. Kelly was recalled by the Blue Jays on April 18 and placed on the team's 25-man roster, sat on the team's bench, and was then designated for assignment on April 21 without having appeared in a Major League game.
Philadelphia Phillies (2017)Edit
In 69 games he played second base, third base, and all three outfield positions, and batted .193 (.400 in extra inning games)/.260/.341 with 2 home runs and 14 RBIs in 88 at bats. On October 5, he elected to be a free agent.
Return to New York Mets (2018)Edit
In January 2018, Kelly agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Mets, with an invitation to spring training. In July, Kelly was designated for assignment, cleared waivers, and accepted an assignment to AAA Las Vegas. In the 2018 season, he had 11 at bats for the major league team. On October 2, he elected to become a free agent.
Los Angeles Angels (2019)Edit
On August 25, 2019, Kelly announced his retirement from baseball.
After Israel – ranked #41 in the world – defeated third-ranked South Korea by a score of 2–1 in 10 innings in the first game, Kelly tweeted: "Definitely the most stressful game I've ever been a part of. But it was worth it." He wore an Israel Baseball band around his left wrist into the 2017 season. Later in 2017, playing at the Marlins when they held Jewish Heritage Day, Kelly said "I had tears in my eyes, hearing the Israel national anthem."
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