ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Whirlwind December brings D-backs pitcher Merrill Kelly back to Arizona

Mar 4, 2019, 5:31 PM | Updated: 7:42 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly throws against the Cleveland Indians during the first in...
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly throws against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)


Growing up in Arizona, playing for the hometown Sun Devils and Diamondbacks was always the dream for pitcher Merrill Kelly.

Little did he know that playing across the Pacific Ocean in the Korean Baseball League would be the route he would have to take to get there.

Kelly was drafted three times – out of high school in the 37th round in 2007, after two years of playing at Yavapai College in Prescott in 2009 and after playing for the Arizona State Sun Devils in 2010 – but was not able to crack an opening day roster in 2014 and decided to play overseas in the KBL.

“Yeah, at first it was way over my head because when I was approached, I didn’t even know there was a KBL,” Kelly said on the Burns & Gambo show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“I had heard about guys going to Japan for a while now, but I hadn’t even known that there was an organized Korean league over there. So, I kind of had to wrap my mind around the fact that there even was a league. But once it went, it went.”

After four years in Korea, Kelly attracted the attention of the D-backs.

He received a contract offer from the organization on Dec. 1, a Saturday, and signed the deal on Monday.

But it wasn’t just an ordinary weekend for the 30-year-old journeyman. Saturday was Kelly’s wedding day.

“That was probably the fastest week of my life,” Kelly said.

“So, they had an offer in at 7:30 that morning. We got married that night. We agreed to what is now the deal on Monday, and I flew out for our honeymoon, signed the paperwork in the airport on the way to Cabo for our honeymoon.”

For the Arizona native, D-backs fans are hoping that his honeymoon with the team goes as well as the honeymoon with his wife.

Kelly’s repertoire as a pitcher includes a fastball that sits in the mid-90s but can touch 97 mph, a changeup that he uses as an out pitch and a developing curveball that he says has improved during his stint in Korea.

The D-backs can only hope the offseason thrill and excitement for the newly married man translates to on-field success.

As for the whirlwind week, it’s likely a story that Kelly and his family will remember for the rest of their lives.

“It was exciting. I couldn’t have written it up any better,” Kelly said.

Arizona Diamondbacks

(Twitter Photo/@RonnieGajownik)...
Alex Weiner

D-backs High-A manager Ronnie Gajownik tells story of hiring

Ronnie Gajownik, the first woman manager at High-A, was told the news by Josh Barfield at the Arizona Fall League.
22 hours ago
Jordan Lawlar #1 of the National League throws for the third out in the fourth inning during the Si...
Alex Weiner

D-backs top prospects Jordan Lawlar, Brandon Pfaadt among 28 NRIs to MLB camp

The Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday announced 28 non-roster invitees to attend Major League camp in Spring Training.
2 days ago
Corbin Carroll #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up before batting in the third inning of the ML...
Alex Weiner

D-backs OF Corbin Carroll ranked MLB’s No. 1 prospect by The Athletic’s Keith Law

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll landed in the No. 1 spot on Keith Law's board after came in second on MLB Pipeline.
3 days ago
General view of action as starting pitcher Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches ag...
Austin Scott

2023 MLB Draft Combine is coming to Chase Field

The third installation of the MLB Draft Combine will take place at Chase Field, showcasing over 300 draft-eligible players.
4 days ago
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley points to a teammate after the team's 3-2 victory over ...
Arizona Sports

The Ain’t No Fang Podcast: D-backs should reunite with Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin

Going into the offseason, one of the top priorities for the Arizona Diamondbacks was to improve the bullpen.
4 days ago
The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a jersey logo patch advertisement with Avnet. (Photo courtesy Ar...
Kevin Zimmerman

Diamondbacks add jersey patch ad featuring tech company Avnet

Technology company Avnet has agreed to a deal to have its logo featured as a jersey patch on the uniforms of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
4 days ago
Whirlwind December brings D-backs pitcher Merrill Kelly back to Arizona