Q&A With Saint Louis Commit Owen Kelly

By: Peter Hamot
Area Scout, Staff Writer

When looking at the long list of players that popped at the Illinois State Games this past summer, RHP Owen Kelly (Belleville East, 2023; Saint Louis commit) is certainly one of the first names that come to mind. Entering the event as one of the top uncommitted arms in southern Illinois before committing to Saint Louis in early September, Kelly dominated over this three inning stint with a quality three-pitch mix and fastball that sat right at 85-87 mph. Kelly will look to help headline the talented pitching staff of Belleville East alongside nationally renowned prospect RHP Zander Mueth (Ole Miss commit) heading into the 2022 spring season. The Lancers are coming off a strong 2021 campaign with a 27-9 record and final Power 25 ranking of No. 20, and they are returning a plethora of talent from last year's team. With the firepower atop the Lancers' rotation and depth throughout their lineup, it would be no surprise to see a deep playoff run from East in this coming IHSA season.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Kelly about his recruitment process, as well as some other fun topics. Continue reading to check out our Q&A, below. 

Our Q&A

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Owen: I did not expect to get as many looks as I did. In my sophomore year, I expected to go to a smaller D2 school or maybe a solid junior college program. In the spring and summer of my junior year, I made great improvements and ended up at a D1 school. While trying to find the right program, I was looking for a school that provided my specific major (aviation) and had individual development opportunities.

P: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

O: No. I solely wanted to find the best opportunity for me. I ended up being close to home committing to SLU.

P: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Where did the school you committed to first see you play?

O: The process really started to heat up for me within the first couple of weeks of January 2022. SLU first saw me pitch in a preseason intersquad scrimmage before Belleville East’s 2022 campaign.

P: What do you like most about the program you chose, and what were the key factors in making your decision?

O: SLU gave me an amazing opportunity to pursue my academic studies while also developing in the baseball environment and becoming the best athlete I can be. A lot of my family members went to school there as well.

P: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

O: Western Kentucky, Butler, Wabash Valley and John A. Logan

P: Who is the best player you have faced in your state? What about them makes for a tough opponent?

O: Spencer Stearns (Edwardsville, 2022). He had a very strong and slightly intimidating presence in the box.

P: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college-caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

O: Freshman year.

P: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

O: Self discipline is the recipe for success. You have to work even when you don’t want to.

P: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

O: 2022 regional championship Belleville East vs Belleville West. I threw a no-hitter and struck out the last guy with runners in scoring position to win the game.

P: Preview your high school team's season for us. How do you feel your team will be?

O: I feel our team will be a top five contender this year. Belleville East arguably has the best pitching staff in the state and possibly the Midwest. Along with our staff, seven of our nine starters who contributed to our 27-9 record in 2022 will be returning this season. We have consistent talent on both sides of the ball.

P: How did the Illinois State Games affect your recruitment process? Did you receive more attention following the event?

O: The Illinois State Games had a great impact on my process. I had further attention from the event.

P: If you could steal any tool or quality from another player in the state, what would it be and who would it be from?

OZander Mueth’s fastball velocity. 

P: Who is the next talented young player to keep an eye on out of your high school or travel program?

O: Ty Reaka (Belleville East, 2024) and Tommy Kramkowski (Belleville East, 2025).

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