There is no doubt that the major league arrival of top prospect Shelby Miller was more anticipated than the comparable debut of Joe Kelly. Yet the latter not only reached St. Louis first, he made an unexpected and major contribution to the present – the success of the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals. Miller’s relatively brief introduction was all about the future.
As such, Kelly’s debut trumped Miller’s in this countdown, 16 to 17.
After all, Kelly stepped in for Jaime Garcia and later, Lance Lynn, making 16 starts and eight relief appearances while logging a very respectable 3.53 ERA. He had never pitched in the majors before.
The Cardinals had selected Kelly in the third round of the 2009 First-Year Draft. The right-hander was an All-American closer at Cal-Riverside. As with all their top pitching prospects, the Cardinals made Kelly a starter in the minors.
Like so many others who pitched for the 2012 Memphis Redbirds, Kelly suffered from a lack of run support. At the time of his pro...