Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Can The New Arizona Diamondbacks (Carson Kelly & Luke Weaver) Realize Their Potential?
by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The rumors had been building but it finally came to fruition, with the Arizona Diamondbacks sending Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals for a package full of upside (yet they have failed at the MLB level to date):
- Carson Kelly (C)
- Luke Weaver (RHP)
- Andy Young (2B)
- Competitive Balance Round B Selection
Obviously the big prizes in the deal are Kelly and Weaver, both of who have had some stumbles in the Majors. Can they finally realize the potential that’s previously been bestowed upon them? Let’s take a look at the two newest Diamondbacks:
Carson Kelly – Catcher
We’ve been waiting for the Cardinals to give him an opportunity, but it’s only come when Yadier Molina has gone down due to injury. Now 24-years old, Kelly has appeared in the Majors over each of the past three seasons (131 PA) but he’s struggled hitting .154 with 0 HR. He may never be a significant source of power or speed, though he has the potential to be among the better average hitters at the position.
Over his Triple-A career he’s hit .278 with 17 HR over 651 AB, with the key being his approach as he’s walked (92) nearly as much as he’s struck out (105). In 294 AB at the level this season he had 48 walks vs. 48 strikeouts and showed the type of approach we like to see:
- SwStr% – 6.8%
- Line Drive Rate – 22.9%
- Oppo% – 27.7%
The question is going to be if he is able to develop enough power, and at his age there’s definitely reason to believe that there’s still growth. Think of him as a potential 12-15 HR threat as a near .270 hitter (and he could be even better if he can maintain a strong BABIP, something that’s never a guarantee for a catcher).
We’ve heard the hype, now he should finally get the opportunity to show it. In two-catcher formats he’s definitely someone worth targeting.
Luke Weaver – Right-Handed Pitcher
It would be easy to point towards fatigue as a reason for his 4.95 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 136.1 IP in the Majors last season as he saw his strikeouts and control regress along the way:
- First Half – 8.39 K/9, 3.15 BB/9
- Second Half – 6.75 K/9, 4.86 BB/9
Control has often been a strong suit, but with a 15.40% Whiff% on his changeup being his “best” swing and miss pitch and an overall 9.7% SwStr% and 28.1% O-Swing% there are legitimate questions about his strikeout potential (despite an 11.9% SwStr% at Triple-A in ’17). You also have to wonder if he’s going to be able to keep the ball in the ballpark, with a 1.27 HR/9 in the Majors and a minor league career 0.85 GO/AO.
Strikeout Issues + Home Run Issues?? Nothing in that regard sounds appealing.
Then you have his struggles against left-handed hitters:
- LHH – .288/.371/.470
- RHH – .254/.315/.409
He’s shown some potential coming up through the minors, but at this point it’s hard to envision him realizing it. Maybe he improves marginally, but he’s nothing more than a late round flier (and not one that we’d be depending on).
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com
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