Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes Have Bright Futures in Padres Organization


Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes Have Bright Futures in Padres Organization The Boston Red Sox attained their crown jewel with the acquisition of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

But as with any high-profile deal, some bona fide prospects found themselves heading to Southern California. Well, more likely Portland, Ore., and San Antonio, Texas, where the Padres’ Triple-A and Double-A clubs, respectively, reside.

Casey Kelly, top pitching prospect and Baseball America’s No. 1 overall prospect in the Boston organization, is perhaps the sexiest name heading to San Diego. However, the Padres also acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Reymond Fuentes in the trade — two prospects with big-time potential – and a player to be named later.

With talent heading from coast to coast, early indicators suggest that this could become a win-win for both sides and could one day be comparable to the 2007 trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez (don’t forget Jesus Delgado) taking their talents to South Beach.

It is no secret what Gonzalez brings to the table for the Boston Red Sox, and with his powerful and consistent bat in the middle of the order, his addition could help atone for the shift in the AL East balance of power when the Red Sox lost out on Mark Teixeira during the winter of 2008.

Kelly, Rizzo and Fuentes are at the other end of the deal. All three enter the 2011 season age 21 or under, and Kelly (21), Rizzo (21) and Fuentes (20) all have displayed admirable talent in the minors. That’s why they were part of the trade for the Nomar Garciaparra of San Diego. Gonzalez was a Padres fan favorite and will be missed.

Padres fans shouldn’t be disappointed in what they got in return.

Rizzo showed plenty of signs that he is destined for a more-than-adequate major league career soon. On the day he was called up to Double-A Portland last May, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound lefty made his presence felt, scorching a towering home run off the video board in right field and sending one of its electronic panels crashing to the ground during his very first batting practice at Hadlock Field — a fine way to break the ice in front of his new teammates and coaching staff.

The rest of the summer, all Rizzo did was post an .815 slugging percentage, hit 20 home runs and knock in 80 runs, including setting a Sea Dogs franchise record with 32 RBI in August.

With his strong work ethic and undeniable talent, it would not be a surprise if Rizzo returned to Fenway Park in a visiting jersey within the next few years. Although he may have been poised to make the leap over Lars Anderson in the coming season, Rizzo’s journey to the Show may have been expedited quite a bit with the move to the San Diego organization.
Then, there is Fuentes, who could be the biggest sleeper in the deal. With his cousin being Carlos Beltran, it is evident that Fuentes has a natural baseball pedigree. Despite his young age, people have admired his all-out style of play and fluid, sound left-handed stroke. 

The Padres will be able to be patient with the young outfielder, who could still be four years away from even sniffing Petco Park. Yet, if Fuentes continues to show signs of a player with an elevated pace of development, he could find himself as an everyday player in the majors within the next four to six years.

The game changer in all of this is Kelly, who has been perhaps the most hyped Red Sox farmhand along with shortstop Jose Iglesias. Many feel the sky is the limit for Kelly, who had his struggles with Double-A Portland this summer in his first year as a full-time starter.

The youngest pitcher in the Eastern League, Kelly posted a 3-5 record with a 5.31 ERA in 2010. The numbers are nothing terrific, not even solid, but his "stuff" can be downright unfair to opposing hitters.

Kelly boasts a devastating 12-6 curveball, a fastball that consistently hits in the low 90s and a changeup that can be as effective as any pitch from any pitcher in Boston’s system. If you watch him pitch, it will become evident immediately that he has the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation guy.

Perhaps the move to the Padres’ organization will be just what the doctor ordered for Kelly, where every minor league start he makes will not be held under a microscope and carefully dissected pitch by pitch. 

Perhaps the expectations for Kelly were too high in Boston, and now he may escape into a minor league hiatus for a year or two and be ready to emerge onto the big league stage as a mature pitcher who has learned to harness the incredible amount of talent that rests with his right arm.

The dust will begin to settle on this deal in the upcoming days, weeks and months before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Then, we will dust it off, watch it unfold and see all of our questions answered.

For now, the deal looks like a winner. Adrian Gonzalez should help propel the Red Sox back into a playoff contender, while the Padres have stockpiled some serious young talent that could prove to be the cornerstone of a competitive team in the future.

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