Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver move into the D-backs’ system
Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver are two names D-backs fans probably didn’t want to hear—at least in connection to a trade for Paul Goldschmidt. Otherwise, they would have recognized the talent coming into the team.
But Kelly and Weaver were hits during Fan Fest at Salt River Fields in February. The two are looking forward to their first season as D-backs and battling their way into fans’ hearts.
Kelly, 24, had played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2016 to 2018, when he was traded for Goldy with his good friend Weaver. The catcher didn’t get much playing time behind the plate, as priority went to the All-Star Yadier Molina.
“Playing for the D-backs gives me a good opportunity to get a fresh start or a change of scenery,” Kelly says.
Prior to Fan Fest and Spring Training, Kelly met a handful of players at Salt River Fields. The biggest tip the players gave him? Be yourself.
“A lot of guys, when they get traded to a new team, they’ll try to fit some mold instead of being who they are,” he says. “It was good to talk to them and good to know everybody’s on the same page.”
Kelly’s style comes from Molina, whether the star realizes it or not.
“Yadi helped me out over the years,” Kelly says. “I’ve watched him ever since I switched over to catcher in 2013. I got to go to big league camp that year.
“I watched him be who Yadier Molina is. I took a lot of notes. I like to write stuff down. I learned so much just from being up there and seeing what he goes through on a day-to-day basis.”
Weaver and Kelly have played together for about five years, since they were in High A. The two were roommates while in the minors in 2015.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Kelly says. “His wife and my girlfriend are good friends.”
Kelly and his girlfriend are big on puzzles, an ongoing project in their living room.
“When we’re not doing anything, we work on it,” he says. “It’s up for grabs.”
Kelly is also a big reader.
“I didn’t read the Harry Potter series growing up,” he says. “I’m on the fourth book. I didn’t like to read growing up. Now the last year and a half I’ve really gotten into it. My girlfriend’s big on reading. She said, ‘You have to read the Harry Potter books.’ She gifted me all the Harry Potter.”
Arizona isn’t new to Kelly. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, he would travel here to play a high school baseball tournament during Spring Break. He also toured Salt River Fields.
“Now I get to be there every day,” he says.
During the offseason, he’s been working out. He’s big on Pilates because it helps strengthen the core and knees.
“I’ll do a lot of things that help the muscle around my knees,” he says.
“I have to be able to squat for a couple hours. I use a lot of muscles I never would have thought of. Pilates hones in on which muscles need that strength to withstand the duration of the season. Squatting every night for three hours for 140 games, if you’re Yadi, it takes a lot out of you. You have to be very strong.
“I’ve been implementing baseball work the last month or so. It’s been a great offseason so far.”
Weaver, 25, concurs that he and Kelly are good friends.
“We ended up in High A together and ever since then, we went up the ladder together at each level,” he says. “He knows me better than anybody else as a pitcher-catcher matchup. He’s a really good player with a lot of knowledge. To have him come over with me means the world.”
Like Kelly, Weaver sees the trade to the Diamondbacks as something exciting.
“I’ve had the chance to talk to some people and let it (the trade) sit a little more; it’s more exciting as the situation goes along,” he says. “You never put too much thought into it until it actually happens to you. It hits you in the face. It was definitely overwhelming and something you have to take in. I had to settle into it quickly.”
Weaver says the team was kind to him when he visited Salt River Fields before Spring Training. Specifically, he met Jake Lamb, Taijuan Walker and Braden Shipley. Torey Lovullo, Mike Butcher and Mike Hazen were good to him as well.
Weaver understands how D-backs fans were shocked when Goldschmidt was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He called the All-Star first baseman a “big-time player.”
“I played against him in the spotlight all the time,” he says. “He’s a stud. Fans loved him. I know he’ll be missed, but he’ll do well with the Cardinals. They’re great over there.”
In his offseason, Weaver traveled to Europe with his wife to give himself a chance to unravel after the 2018 run.
“We went to Italy, France and Spain, a little cruise over there,” says Weaver, who played at Salt River Fields during the Arizona Fall League. “That was a lot of fun. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. We spent almost two weeks over there. It was a nice start to the offseason.
“I’m continuing to throw lightly and keep the arm going throughout the offseason. It’s exciting to be on a team that has a chance to make it. That’s what the D-backs are doing. I enjoy being part of a team like that that has good, young talent, veteran leadership and is well rounded—all from an outsider looking in.”