Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 Recap: Antwone Kelly Emerging as Intriguing Young Arm

Apr 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; A detail view of the glove, hat, and sunglasses of Pittsburgh
Apr 23, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; A detail view of the glove, hat, and sunglasses of Pittsburgh / Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Young righty Antwone Kelly followed up a strong season in the Florida Complex League by impressing while getting a cup of coffee at the Low-A level

On January 15th, 2021, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed right-handed pitcher Antwone Kelly out of Aruba. A fastball that can get into the mid-90s paired with a curveball that has good potential is what made Kelly intriguing to MLB clubs.

After pitching well at the Florida Complex League in 2022, Kelly started the 2023 season back in the Complex League again. Pitching mostly in relief (12 appearances, 4 starts), Kelly posted a 2.95 ERA and a 3.17 FIP in 39.2 innings pitched in the Complex League this past season.

His 39.2 innings pitched has a jump from his 23.1 innings pitched in 2022, while his 3.17 FIP cam down substantially from his 4.13 FIP the previous season. Kelly did not allow a home run, and had a 10.7% walk rate to go with a 27.8% strikeout rate.

All in all, very strong numbers for Kelly. After pitching well in the Florida Complex League, Kelly earned a late season promotion to the Low-A Bradenton Marauders. Kelly pitched twice for the Marauders in September, with both outings coming in relief.

Kelly, who did not turn 20 until September 1st, allowed a run on 2 hits, no walks, no home runs, and 6 strikeouts in 4.0 innings pitched with the Marauders. It goes without saying that this was impressive work for Kelly in his first cup of coffee at the Low-A level.

Looking ahead to 2024, Kelly will likely begin the season with the Marauders. Seeing what the 20-year-old can do with a more extended look at the Low-A level will be intriguing to follow. If he pitches well for the Marauders, a promotion to High-A Greensboro later in the season should not be ruled out

Kelly is starting to become one of the more intriguing underrated arms in the Pirate farm system. If Kelly can find the success he's had in the Florida Complex League the past two seasons, as well as in his cup of coffee with Bradenton last season, over a full season, he will start to emerge as a prominent relief pitching prospect in the Pirate farm system.

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