Refugio’s Jared Kelley has officially started his professional baseball career.
Kelley signed with the Chicago White Sox on Saturday after being selected in the second round of this month’s Major League Baseball amateur draft.
“It’s a just a dream come true,” Kelley said when reached by phone from his Refugio home on Saturday afternoon. “This is what I’ve wanted to do, and now I have the opportunity in front of me.”
Kelley and his family flew to Chicago on Thursday. He underwent a physical and MRI on Friday, and visited the White Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field.
Kelley actually signed his contract at the airport in Houston, after the White Sox received the results of the MRI.
“All the hard work paid off,” Kelley said. “Everything was worth it.”
Mike Shirley, the White Sox director of amateur scouting, told the Chicago Tribune that Kelley has an “elite fastball” and a changeup that’s a “real weapon.”
Kelley, who had signed with the University of Texas, was selected as the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year despite having his senior season at Refugio cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelley went 3-0 as a senior, did not allow a hit and recorded 34 of his 36 outs by strikeout.
Kelley had a 32-3 record and 0.60 ERA during his Refugio career. He had 440 strikeouts in 199.2 innings pitched.
The minor league season has been canceled and Kelley plans to resume training while he waits for instructions from the White Sox.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’ll continue going to Corpus Christi to work out until I find out what’s going to happen.”
The White Sox have also signed Tennessee pitcher Garrett Crochet, their first-round pick.
“Crochet, the college lefty, obviously is probably a little closer to helping the Chicago White Sox,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told the Chicago Tribune, “but we think Kelley’s ceiling is every bit as high and could be a factor here for a long time once he too is ready.”