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Kelly carries on family name


Westview junior following in brothers footsteps

Those familiar with the Westview baseball program had seen this movie before.

It was the bottom of the sixth inning, under the cooking July sun on the melting Tigard High baseball turf field. Westview (Robinson Construction) was playing its fifth game in four days and trailing Clackamas 1-0 in the semifinals of the OIBA season-ending tournament.

The ball was hit squarely on the seams, back up the box, outwardly ordained for centerfield, and with two Cavaliers running on contact, Westview's one-run deficit was sure to swell.

Then, suddenly, Parker Kelly's gloved hand appeared out of nowhere, and cuffed the shot, as if it were a Shop Vac scooping up a loose ball of dog hair on the carpet. Unruffled by the velocity of the hit, Kelly coolly skipped two steps toward second base, tagged the bag and jumped in the air spread eagle-style to avoid the Cavalier catapulting towards his shins.

Dissatisfied with just one out, the shortstop unleashed a projectile mid-flight as he hung over the anguished Clackamas runner that hit first baseman Teagan Lind in the numbers for the highlight reel-worthy twin killing.

An elderly Wildcat fan sporting a weathered Westview hat, lounging in the bleachers directly behind home plate nodded his head in approval as Kelly and company trotted off the field in unison.

“He sure looked a lot like Carson there,” said the man referring to Parker's older brother and current minor leaguer Carson Kelly. “They (the Kellys) make those plays seem routine, and they do it all the time. That's why one of them makes money playing this game, and the other will too someday.”

A 2015 Major League Baseball draft candidate himself, Parker has never had to venture far for an example of how to handle the sometimes glaring spotlight of being a highly touted prospect growing up in the public's eye. Currently, Carson is playing minor league baseball for the State College Spikes — a class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Carson has always been his younger brother's keeper. Ever since the two brothers first went into their family's garage and began falling in love with the game, Carson's been a leading example and role model who's been there for Parker every step of the way.

“I love that guy to death,” said Parker of Carson. “Even though he's halfway across the U.S., he's still texting me, calling me every day. I'm his No. 1 fan, he's mine. He's been an influence in my life the whole time I've been playing baseball. He drives me. We push each other a lot.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westviews Parker Kelly is one of the Wildcats top pitchers who uses his shortstop fielding instincts well on the hill.

Grounded in fundamentals

When you're older brother is a second-round pick, the subsequent comparisons to the up-and-coming sibling are inevitable. In demeanor, Carson and Parker are just about undifferentiated. They're both wise beyond their years and conduct themselves like seasoned veterans even though each is still a teenager. Carson utilizes his tools and thicker frame at third base, while Parker cuts his teeth turning double plays and gunning guys down from the hole at shortstop. Both can hit, pitch, play exceptional defense and provide quiet foresight to their respective teams.

“We both have different games, but we're also a lot alike” said Parker. “The way we go about the game, how hard we play, 100 percent, that's the way we like to go. Now, I'm trying to pass that off to some of the younger guys in our program.”

Perhaps no one can distinguish the two brothers better than their dad, Mike, a former college catcher in the Midwest, who coached both his sons through their middle school years. Mike said while both are grounded in the fundamentals of the game and have similar baseball beliefs, Parker is the flashier of the two. Where Carson is more conservative with his uniform and overall ensemble, Parker likes to sport throwback knee-high socks with the super-flat bill on his cap. Mike said Parker is more expressive on the field, while Carson prefers to blend in.

Carson was outstanding at showing Parker the ropes, Mike said, but at the same time, Parker wanted to beat Carson at everything. The Kellys have a garage that's essentially a baseball laboratory with batting tees, buckets of balls and nets. Mike said Parker and Carson were constantly in what they referred to as “the baseball room,” polishing their skills, talking about the game, helping each other improve.

“If they were doing a small ball drill and Carson would hit six out of 10, Parker would always try to hit seven,” said Mike. “He always wanted to best his brother, so there's always been this friendly competitive environment with the two that's really cool. It keeps driving them even stronger. They're supportive, but they're also very competitive in a very positive way.”

A true team

During Parker's freshman season, he and Carson were double-play mates with Parker manning second and his older brother guiding him from short. It had been Parker's ambition to play alongside his favorite player, who just so happened to live down the hallway from him. But that didn't take away Parker's initial anxiety when the infielders took the field against Lake Oswego on opening day 2012. Almost instinctively, Carson ran over to his brother's side and parceled out the kind of calming words of advice one would expect from an older sibling.

“I was a little scared being a freshman, but Carson came over, gave me a hug was like, 'Hey baby, let's go. You're alright. You belong here. You're going to do big things, and you have me right next to you, so that's all you need',” recalled Parker. “Now, I'm talking to him every day. If I struggle, he'll say, 'Get back out there.' And I'll say the same thing to him.”

“He comes from a great family and he's played in a lot of big games for us already,” said Westview head coach Steve Antich. “He's been able to watch his brother handle pressure and stress. Parker has a lot of good support, and he really came into his own here of late. If he can continue that next spring, look out.”

Crazy summer

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Parker Kelly is a flashy shortstop with range, hitting ability and strong leadership qualities.

Parker's had an extra busy summer traveling the country, putting his talents on display for college and professional scouts at various high prestige showcases tournaments. Two days after Westview's (Robinson Construction) OIBA season concluded, Parker was on an eastbound plane to Florida for a Perfect Game tournament. In this day in age, high school prospects have to hop flights and criss cross the nation from coast-to-coast to attain attention from baseball's big decision makers both on the collegiate and pro level. Parker's jam-packed summer doesn't supply much time for relaxation, yet the junior said he's savoring the opportunity to stilt his craft.

“It's been a crazy summer, but I'm enjoying it and just loving playing baseball,” said Parker. “That's how I'm going about it. My summer's a little crazy, but I still get to hang out with all my teammates and play my game.”

Parker said he often thinks about the future and what lies ahead. Yet, when he's back in Beaverton, the only thing he's honed in on is taking Westview back to the zenith of the 6A pecking order.

“I missed these guys,” said Parker. “You know, I travel a lot, but when I come back, my main focus is Westview and Robinson Construction. It's fun. I love coming back to these guys and love how these guys battle. When I start school in the fall, I'm going to be seeing them in the hallway, and we're all going to be going to work, so I'm excited.”

“He's the center piece” said Antich. “The kids look to him as a leader and count on him to make the big play for us if other people are struggling. I know at times he's felt a little pressure to do things all by himself, but he doesn't have to do that. With Teagan (Lind), Kenyon (Yovan) and on and on, we have guys who can help him.”

One step at a time

Only a junior, Parker had a front-row seat as he watched Carson handle the recruiting battle for his services between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, and then eventually the decision to attend college or go pro. Mike instilled taking things one step at a time with his sons, and staying true to the process. First, you have to scour the country, get recruited and eventually commit to a college, Mike believes. Then, if the opportunity to play professionally arises, like it did for Carson, then you cross that bridge when you get to it.

“Parker was a sponge around all of Carson's experiences, but at the same time, I've told him he needs to be his own man,” said Mike. “He needs to pave his own way and be who he is. I know he wants to sign for one more dollar than Carson (who received a $1.7 million signing bonus) or be a pick in front of Carson (who was the 86th pick). Again, that's friendly competition, but going to a university is his goal right now.”

Parker and Carson are deeply rooted in their faith and firmly believe the man upstairs has a blueprint laid out for their futures.

“I think God's got a plan for me, and that's all I'm going to follow, just like my brother did,” said Parker. “Hopefully, the work I'm doing on the field is enough for them to notice me, and if not, I'll go back, work harder and do what I can to keep playing this game.”

Playing against top-drawer talent from across the U.S. has facilitated Parker's sense of the next level. Having an older brother who took him along whenever they went to the ball park, Parker's always competed against opponents who could hit the ball hard and throw it fast. He's accustomed to facing the best.

“The mental side has to be a big part of your game so my brother and my dad have been helping me with that,” said Parker. “The biggest thing they taught me is having the love of the game. Go hard every time you're on the field — every time you're in-between those lines, you have to sprint on and off and give it your all.”