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Casey Kelly on D&H

01.07.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching prospect Casey Kelly joined the Dale & Holley Show on Thursday. Kelly will be in Boston on Saturday to take part in the New Stars for Young Stars, a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund that will feature several top Red Sox prospects as well as recently current (Jeremy Hermida and Manny Delcarmen) and former (Curt Schilling and Trot Nixon) members of the big-league club.

Kelly, who spent 2009 as both a pitcher and position player, spoke about the decision to leave behind a promising college football career, to commit to pitching, and trade rumors in which his name came up. To listen to the complete interview, click here. For information on the New Stars for Young Stars Event, click here.

How close were you to going to Tennessee to play quarterback?

Baseball was always my first love, but in high school, I started getting notices from big-time colleges. I signed a letter of intent to go to the University of Tennessee and play quarterback there.

Playing quarterback at a big-time college is unbelievable. It was definitely a tough decision for me. When it was all said and done, I definitely knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that was to play baseball.

Were you signed by Phil Fulmer or Lane Kiffin?

My freshman year would have been Fulmer’s last year as head coach.

Why Tennessee?

The thing that drew me to Tennessee was just feeling comfortable with their coaching staff. They had Todd Helton, who played both baseball and football at Tennessee. I think that made me pick them, because they had been through both the baseball and football part and knew how to work it out.

You split the season as a pitcher and shortstop. Didn’t you want to be a shortstop?

Yes. Yes.

But you had to make a decision at the end of the year.

It seems like every year I have to make a tough decision. I had so much fun this year playing my first full season. The Red Sox were great about the transition between pitching and shortstop. They kind of sat down with me at the end of the season, kind of laying out what happened this season, what I need to work on, a timeline for each position. When it came in the end, it was kind of a no-brainer. I’m going to be pitching full time this year and I’m excited about it.

What do you need to work on as a pitcher?

I think just experience. I haven’t had a lot of experience in the minor leagues. I only pitched 100 innings last year. I was in Low-A and High-A last year. This year, I think I’m going to try to do what I did last year: try to learn as much as I can in a short amount of time, learn from other guys about how they go about their business. I think just getting as many innings as I can is the biggest thing for me.

What kind of quarterback were you going to be? What kind of pitcher are you?

Quarterback, I think I’m more of a Drew Brees kind of guy, a pro style quarterback. I throw the ball a lot. I can kind of run out of the pocket and make things happen, but I’m definitely not a speedster or a dual track guy like Tim Tebow.

As a baseball guy, I look at myself kind of like Zack Greinke – very athletic, very good pitcher. That’s kind of the pitcher that I look at in the big leagues who I want to be like.

You were more successful in your half-season as pitcher. Had you spent full year as a shortstop, do you think your numbers would have been better?

It’s definitely tough to take two to three months off and then try to come back in the middle of the season and try to hit. That’s definitely tough. But right now, I’m just focusing on pitching. I had my time at shortstop. I definitely had fun with it. It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, but I’m excited about pitching. I can’t wait to get into spring training and to start throwing.

Your dad has pro baseball experience. What was that like growing up, knowing your dad was a MLB player? Did that rub off on you?

Definitely – the impact he’s had on my career is unbelievable. Spending time with him during the season, knowing the ups and downs of minor-league baseball – the travel is tough, and obviously in baseball, you fail a lot. I was in the clubhouse all the time. I saw a lot of the top prospects in his system and what made them successful. What I took from them was just trying to do what they did.

Your name will be in trade rumors because of talent. How did you handle that this offseason when your name came up with some big names?

It’s actually pretty funny, because I had no clue about it. Some of my best friends at home were like, ‘Are you going to get traded to the Blue Jays?’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ They were like, ‘You’re in trade rumors with the Blue Jays and other teams.’ … I really had no clue. I try not to pay attention to any of that stuff. You never know what’s going to happen. I try to focus on what I’m doing and things I can control. Trades and stuff, you can’t control any of that.

Your dad probably helped with that, too.

He was drafted by the Angels. He was in the big leagues with the Blue Jays. He was with a couple different teams as a player, and as a coach, with a couple different teams, too.

I definitely want to stay with the Red Sox. I hope that everything works out where I can stay with the same team for my whole career. But these days, it’s tough to do that.

Do you know what level you’ll start at this year?

Minor-league baseball, you kind of have to prove yourself. Going into spring training, I’ll definitely have a chance to compete for a spot in Double-A. That’s what I’m training for right now, to be in the best position to make the Double-A team and to break camp with them.

Have you been invited major-league camp?

Yes, I’ll be in major-league camp at the start of spring training.

Have you thought about working with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester and Jon Lackey, how you can use their skills and experiences to help you?

I don’t even need to talk to them. I just want to see how they go about their business. They’ve been so successful in their careers. To get a chance to be around them and watch how they work, watch how they throw bullpens, watch how they deal with things, I think that’s going to help me tremendously. I just hope that I don’t stare too much and that they think I’m weird.

Read More: casey kelly, tennessee, zack greinke,
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