No one has dubbed him "The Chosen One" just yet, but the expectations for prospect Casey Kelly are mile high.
Kelly is Baseball America's 24th ranked prospect and the 20-year-old is embarking on his first season as a full-time pitcher. Heading to the big stage at Fort Myers has already been an interesting experience for the former shortstop, who is expected to climb the franchise ropes in a hurry.
His first step, spring training, has been a smooth one so far.
“It takes a little while to get used to. Every day you get more comfortable,” he told ESPN.com. “The first day you walk in here and see some of the guys in your locker row, guys like Josh Beckett and John Lackey, it’s definitely an eye-opening experience.
“Everybody has been real nice," the 30th overall pick in 2008 added. "They’ve all introduced themselves like you don’t know who they are, but obviously you do. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible and soak everything in.”
Coming in with one goal in mind has made the trip easier as well. In the past, Kelly was experimenting at both pitcher and shortstop. But this offseason, Kelly made the bold decision to concentrate on a pitching career as he ditched his bat for good.
“It’s strange, but at the same time it’s nice,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about people asking me, ‘So, are you going to play shortstop or pitch?’ Now I can just focus on one position and it makes it a lot easier for my workouts.”