Carolina notes: Kelly calm in any count

Keys infielder amassing hits, walks with consistent approach

By Jeff Seidel / Special to | July 4, 2012 6:00 AM ET

Frederick second baseman Ty Kelly is very patient at the plate, a big reason he's become one of the Carolina League's top hitters this year.

One factor behind Kelly's success has been his ability to hit with two strikes, a count that worries many but doesn't bother him much. Of course, he's also fared well early in his at-bats, a combination that's helped him post a .325 average after Tuesday's action, third highest in the circuit.

"I'm definitely confident with two strikes," said Kelly, who is currently riding a 13-game hitting streak. "A lot of guys don't like it, but with two strikes for me, I feel like I'm going to shorten up and put it in play."

Kelly's secret, he said, is to actually be more aggressive with two strikes to make contact. He added that not being afraid to hit in that situation helps him earlier in the count as well, since it allows Kelly to wait for a pitch he wants to see rather than swinging at something the pitcher wants to throw.

"I'm thinking 'swing, swing, swing,' and if it's not in the zone, I can just take it," Kelly said.

But Kelly hasn't lost his aggressiveness earlier in the count. He's been taking shots at some of the "get me over" pitches, a big reason he feels in control regardless of the balls and strikes.

This strategy also worked when the Orioles moved him up two levels to Triple-A Norfolk for 11 games earlier this year. Kelly didn't miss a beat, batting .278 with just three strikeouts in 36 at-bats before rejoining the Keys.

He learned many of these batting lessons from his father, Pat Kelly, now a baseball coach at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif.

The elder Kelly worked his with son on the importance of how to handle himself at the plate with two strikes. The younger Kelly developed the patience needed for two-strike counts and keeps improving at it.

That's a big reason he's also one of the Carolina League leaders in walks and on-base percentage (.438). In fact, he's one of the few players who has more walks (43) than strikeouts (38).

Frederick hitting coach Jose Hernandez loves Kelly's patience. In fact, Hernandez joked that sometimes Kelly might be a bit too patient -- but he understands why.

"He knows the strike zone, and he's not afraid to go to two strikes," Hernandez said. "He's probably our best hitter right now ... and he knows what he can do, so he just puts the ball in play."

In brief

Walk on in: Wilmington scored six runs in the top of the 13th inning against Frederick on Monday night, despite having only one hit in the frame. Keys reliever Brandon Erbe walked four straight batters to open the inning before being replaced by Jeremy Nowak, who promptly issued a free pass and yielded a two-run single. A fielding error led to the final two runs in the frame as the Blue Rocks beat the Keys, 12-6.

A big hit: Rick Hague of the Potomac Nationals earned Offensive Player of the Week honors. The 23-year-old shortstop hit .464 (13-for-28) with one homer and six RBIs to go along with eight runs scored and five stolen bases.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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