Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Keone Kela Scouting Report

Keone Kela was ranked as the 24th best prospect in the Rangers' deep farm system by the Newburg Report. Kela was drafted by the Rangers out of Everett Community College in the 12th round in 2012. The Mariners had drafted him the previous year in the 29th round out of high school, but he didn't sign. He wasn't ranked as a great prospect out of high school (97th in the state of Washington by Max Preps and 6045th in the nation, which is basically undraftable), but matched his good high school numbers with good numbers in Community College. After being drafted and signing with the Rangers, he followed with good numbers in a small sample size in the Arizona Summer League, getting over 60% of hitters that put the ball in play to hit grounders and nearly 34 % of all batters to strikeout. Obviously, we don't have much reason to believe that college or high school pitching statistics mean anything, and the AZL league is such a small sample that it is hard to put any weight into it (and perhaps we shouldn't be looking at short-season statistics anyway, especially complex leagues).

His size,6-1 190, as a right-hander, most likely played a large role in him being underrated by some. While the Rangers are going to try him as a starter in the future according to reports, the height makes it likely he will be a reliever.
As is not usual for pitchers in the low minors/high school/college, velocity reports are somewhat inconsistent and evolving. He has been clocked at 93-97 MPH in the AZL. When he was drafted by the Mariners, it appears that his fastball was 89-91 MPH, and when he was in community college his fastball was 91-95 MPH (or 93 MPH). He then touched 100 MPH in the summer. Baseball America rated his fastball as the best in the Rangers' draft class.

From video I watched of him, his delivery did not seem very fluid and he brought a high leg kick along with a 3/4 delivery. He had the pointed foot thing where his leg and foot wasn't exactly pointed the right direction. Reportedly, his delivery is better now and nothing was overly messy for a 19 year old (will turn 20 in April) anyway. He was also used as a designated hitter in college (when you search his name, once you get past the draft stuff, you will probably see stories about him getting robbed of an homer by a great catch in the 9th inning of a game) and if the school website is correct, he also played some outfield as well. This all means that he is most likely athletic, which is always good to see in pitchers. From what I saw of him, he did seem to be athletic, but I don't really think he will grow out anymore (which most likely means he isn't "projectable", although his fastball has obviously been gaining speed)

There is definitely a lot to like about Keone Kela as a pitching prospect. He has a real fastball that could turn into an elite fastball. This alone could get him in the Majors. With a pitcher that young, especially considering his height, there are always variables that we just can't forecast. To become a starter, his breaking pitches (I hear he throws an 81 MPH slider, but not really much else) will have to develop, but we are far away from seeing Kela in the Majors anyway. For now, he is one to watch, even though he most likely won't be in full season ball until 2014.

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