With Yadier Molina’s career nearing an end, a big question arises—who will be the heir to Yadi’s dynasty?
Yadier Molina, at almost 34 years old, has continued to perform on both offense and defense. Sure he’s not the same Yadi as five or six years ago, but he has yet to show he needs a replacement. However, in a few more years things may change. The Cardinals should start to explore all the options they have in front of them. As part of the Mozeliak faithful, I’m certain that this is an issue that has been on Mo’s mind.
The Cardinals have built their dynasty on their farm system. More so than almost any other team, the Cardinals usually look at internal solutions before external solutions to solve their issues.
Because of the Cardinals track record of looking at internal solutions, Carson Kelly, the Cardinals number 13 prospect, is looking as one of the most likely answers for the aging Yadi.
C Carson Kelly and RHP Alex Reyes will represent #stlcards in the All-Star Futures Game.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) June 28, 2016
Initially drafted as a third baseman, Kelly has had a seemingly simple transition to being a catcher. At the moment, Kelly’s value comes on the defensive end; more specifically his strong arm. In high school, Kelly had some pitching experience and was clocked at 92 MPH. This season at AA Springfield he has thrown out 36% of base stealers.
Let’s put that statistic in perspective for a second. That percentage would be good for the fourth highest among active players in the MLB. Scouting reports also note Kelly as being “a natural leader who works with pitchers and frames well” by MLB.com’s prospect watch. These are all good signs that point to Kelly’s ability to take over for Yadi without a significant loss in leadership and defensive quality.
Even though Kelly seemingly has more to offer on defense, he was actually initially drafted because of his power potential. Although he has never hit more than 10 home runs in a season, he’s currently on pace to have around 14 this season. Scouts saw Kelly as having higher power potential than high batting average potential, however recently his contact numbers have been promising.
Last season Kelly only batted .219, placing his ability to play at the big league level in question. However, this season Kelly is batting .291 with a .333 on-base percentage. To me, this is very promising to see. Especially coupled with the fact that prior to this season Kelly has focused on assimilation to the catcher position. Now that he completed his training at a new position, he can begin to focus on his bat.
Filling the shoes of Yadier Molina, a candidate for the Hall of Fame, is an almost impossible job for anyone. He is by far considered the best defensive catcher in the game, and one of the best overall catchers. Nevertheless, the Cardinals have to brace for the fact that he can’t play forever. Right now the Cardinals best internal option for a heir is Carson Kelly. If he can continue to produce these type of numbers, both on the offensive and defensive sides, and continue to improve in the upcoming seasons, he’ll most definitely be Mo’s answer for the aging Yadi.
Photo captured by Jeff Curry- USA Today Sports