At the end of each minor league season, Baseball America takes the time to tour around the circuits from Triple-A down to the short-season leagues and name the top-20 prospects at every stop. For the first time, the Milwaukee Brewers had two affiliates in the complex-level Arizona League in 2019 — the AZL Brewers Blue and AZL Brewers Gold. This year BA ranked one Brew Crew minor leaguer among the top-20 prospects on the circuit.
Coming in at number seven was left-hander Antoine Kelly:
Drafted out of high school by the Padres in the 13th round in 2018, Kelly instead spent a year in junior college prior to the Brewers picking him in the second round in 2019. The lanky, athletic southpaw established himself as the best pitcher in the Arizona League after just a couple of starts.
Possessing an elite, plus-plus fastball up to 97 mph with plenty of life, Kelly uses an effortless delivery with arm speed and plus extension. His delivery features a cross-fire look that adds deception. With a tall, projectable body, he figures to soon be able to get his fastball into triple-digits.
Kelly worked mostly with his heater in his pro debut, but threw in a slider with good cut that flashed plus at times. He has enough feel for pitching to develop workable offspeed pitches, but his fastball with solid-average spin is going to be his money offering.
Tod Johnson and the Brewers went heavy on left-handed pitching in the 2019 MLB Draft, and though the org’s two top picks both throw southpaw, their profiles couldn’t be any more different. Ethan Small’s polish and pitchability present a high-floor but his pedestrian repertoire doesn’t wow scouts. Kelly, meanwhile has the raw stuff to rear back and blow it by hitters almost at will. He ate up the competition while pitching for the AZL Brewers Blue ate only the tender age of 19, working to a 1.26 ERA across 28.2 innings pitched in nine starts. After punching out 19.1 batters per nine innings during his lone year of junior college, Kelly whiffed 41 opposing hitters in Arizona for a 12.9 K/9. At 6’6” and with a cross-fire delivery, there were concerns about Kelly’s ability to throw strikes as a professional, but he did his best to allay those worries by issuing only five free passes to 108 batters. Kelly scuffled in one late-season start for the Timber Rattlers, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a lengthier crack at full season ball in 2020.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference