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Giants promote former top pitching prospect

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Pittsburgh Pirates vs San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Derek Law watches a Jung Ho Kan home run fly over the fence in the eighth inning of Pittsburgh's 4-3 win Tuesday night.

The Giants promoted right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly Friday, optioning Derek Law to Triple-A and transferring Johnny Cueto to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 25-man and 40-man rosters, respectively.

Ahead of Friday’s contest against the Pirates, Giants manager Bruce Bochy described Kelly’s role as that of a ‘swing-man’ who could offer support as either a starter or a long-reliever.

The skipper plans to announce Saturday’s starter after Friday’s game, saying Ty Blach might be in the mix for the nod and that it would also depend on bullpen need in Friday’s game, but it’s likely that Kelly (10-9, 4.78 ERA), who last started Saturday for Triple-A Sacramento, will take the mound.

This is Kelly’s first taste of the big leagues since 2016 with Atlanta. His father was a big league catcher with the Toronto Blue Jays and now works as a bench coach for the Reds. The Giants will go to Cincinnati for a three game series next weekend.

The 28-year-old was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2008 amateur player draft and was a highly touted prospect, once ranked as Baseball America’s No. 45 prospect. He spent two years in Boston’s minor league system before being traded to the Padres two years later in a swap that also sent Anthony Rizzo to San Diego in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez.

Kelly got his first shot in big leagues in late August of 2012 when the Padres called him up for six starts, but he came away 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA and fell to Tommy John surgery, missing all of 2013.

He spent another couple of years in the Friars minor league system before a 2015 late-September call-up, but by then his stock had fallen significantly and in three starts he went 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA.

The Braves traded for him in 2015 in exchange for Christian Bethancourt, perhaps recalling his 2012 big league debut in which he pitched six scoreless innings against them allowing just three hits and striking out four. 

Atlanta promoted him in late April of 2016 and used him primarily as a long reliever in 10 outings, but by July he was sent him back to the minors. They granted him free agency after the season and was picked up by the Cubs, but he never made it back to the Show and was released midway through the 2017.

The Giants gave Kelly a chance in 2017. He’s been with San Francisco since mid-season last year and he’s turned some heads, particularly in the last few weeks.

Asked what’s been working for him he said:

“I think just really attacking the zone and throwing strikes and using my off speed when I need to. The biggest thing is just being consistent at this point and I feel like the last 5 or 6 times I’ve been consistent and on a good roll.”

The righty has 104 strikeouts in 130 innings and opponents are batting .283 off him in on the season in Sacramento. In the last six games he’s notched 31 strikeouts in 36-2/3 innings and has a 3.68 ERA and has limited opponents to a .275 average. 

On Deck

The Giants pit southpaw Derek Holland (5-8 3.88 ERA) against Bucs righty Clay Holmes (1-1, 3.65 ERA) Friday. Trevor Williams was originally set to start for Pittsburgh Friday but the team made changes to their rotation midway through Thursday’s game.

Notes

Nick Hundley has passed the concussion protocol after taking a foul-tip to the mask Tuesday, and he is set to remain on active duty. … Brandon Belt (hyperextended right knee) will be examined by team doctors Friday and if he passes evaluation he will begin a rehab in Sacramento Saturday. Bochy estimates that he will return to the roster either Tuesday or Wednesday in Los Angeles.


Julie Parker is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @InsideThePark3r on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.

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