Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly's Valley roots inspire young athletes

Kelly graduated from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale
Merrill Kelly
Posted at 2:21 PM, Oct 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-06 17:03:41-05

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks Pitcher Merrill Kelly's journey to playing for Major League Baseball wasn't easy.

After graduating from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, he decided not to sign with the Baltimore Orioles. Instead, the right-handed pitcher spent two years at Yavapai College before transferring to Arizona State University. He spent four years in the Minor League system with the Tampa Bay Rays and then headed to South Korea.

Then, in 2018 the 30-year-old rookie got his big shot with the Diamondbacks.

His story of perseverance is what makes him a hometown hero for current players at Desert Mountain High school.

"It's definitely inspiring to think that you know, a guy pitching at the big-league level came through our program, did the same things we do every day. You know, promotes us to work harder and get to where he is," said third baseman Kyle Pettidrew.

"It's super cool, especially know that there's obviously an end goal to go make it to the major leagues and just knowing that somebody did it and accomplished those goals is really cool," added Sam McDonnell, "Especially knowing that he played on these same fields. Obviously was in the same classes that I'm in. So, it's just super cool that he had the same kind of upcoming, and that there's a place that I could go."

"Especially me being a pitcher like he is, I think it's inspiring to see someone like that to try and like strive for," said pitcher Quinn Robertson.

"They're just beaming with pride. You know, how cool is it to be on this field, at this campus where Merrill Kelly has played? He throws in that bullpen over there in the offseason and uses this as kind of a place where he can come and unwind and relax and get some throws in in the offseason. So, it really, it really brings home, you know, that they can be there. That this is something they can achieve in their life, if one of their fellow, you know, graduates here from Desert Mountain can do it. It kind of gives them the sense that maybe one day they could be in his shoes," said Head Coach Ryan Dyer.

Watching Kelly's success has been personally rewarding for Dyer.

"What a great story. You know, I've watched Merrill Kelly play since he was a young kid. I've been in this district for over 20 years. And so, I was at Saguaro High School when he was making his way through Desert Mountain, and we had some epic battles back in those days. And kind of his story is the definition of what I hope Desert Mountain can continue to be," said Dyer.

The program is so proud they are hoping to honor Kelly by retiring his Desert Mountain jersey.

"We've had a lot of players come through here that have had success, but the thing that made Merrill stick out in my eyes is that the journey he's taken. He never gave up on himself. He grinded for so long and, and just, he put the work in, and he's been such a good person for not only baseball but for the community. And so that's what has set him apart where he's gonna have a special recognition on our wall of fame and we look forward to having that honor with him," said Dyer.