Owen Kellington was one of the Pittsburgh Pirates many over slot picks in the 2021 MLB draft. So what could he provide to the team in the future?
The Pittsburgh Pirates had a draft haul in the 2021 draft. They selected five players and signed them to overslot deals. Of those picks was high school right-hander Owen Kellington. Kellington hails from an unlikely source of baseball talent, that being Vermont, which has produced 27 players since the 1900s. Despite where he comes from, Kellington has some real talent.
At U-32 High School, Kellington posted some astounding numbers, and that might be an understatement. Kellington had a 0.22 ERA through 49 innings of work as a prep pitcher. In those 49 innings, he struck out 133 batters. In total, he made 147 outs, meaning that 90.5% of the outs were strikeouts. Kellington’s K/9 ratio 24.2.
Kellington made his debut for the Pirate Complex League affiliate, allowing 13 earned runs on 14 hits and nine walks. Kellington did strike out 15 but was definitely hampered by a .467 batting average on balls in play. It is too small of a sample size to make any definitive conclusions, but a BABIP over .450 for a pitcher in any scenario just screams bad luck. Kellington was also hurt, which didn’t make matters any better.
Kellington isn’t a power pitcher, working in the high-80s and low-90s. At his fastest, he throws 92 MPH. Kellington’s upper-70s curveball is a good weapon. It is a high-spin curveball with a ton of drop. On top of that, it has some vertical movement. It’s one of the better breaking pitches in the Pirates system right now.
Kellington has somewhat of an unorthodox delivery. FanGraphs drew the comparison to Ubaldo Jimenez, given the way that both Jimenez and Kellington’s sides are very open when reeling back. But Kellington keeps a much shorter arm and has a slightly higher arm angle than Jimenez. It is a more over-the-top angle compared to Jimenez.
The downside is Kellington only has those two pitches to work with right now. He is still young enough he could add another offering to his repertoire. The right-hander will only be heading into his age-20 campaign next year, so there’s plenty of time for Kellington to learn another pitch. Even though he was injured for a good portion of the 2022 season, he could start the ‘23 campaign with Low-A Bradenton.
Kellington is one of the Pittsburgh Pirates lesser talked about prospects. He may end up being one of the multiple potential productive players to come from the 2021 draft (heck, the ‘21 draft might build the foundation for long-term success for the Pirates). Kellington has the chance to be a productive starter in the future and has the stuff to continue to improve.