Joe Kelly’s Early Life
Joe Kelly was born on June 9, 1988, in the city of Anaheim, California to Andrea Valencia and Joe Kelly Sr. Kelly Sr. was a collegiate football player at Vanderbilt college who later attended NFL training camp with the San Diego Chargers.
Kelly Jr. has played baseball since he was a kid growing up in Corona, California. Up through his middle school days, he pitched often, and skateboarded whenever he wasn’t on the baseball field.
As a kid, Joe was obviously an athlete, but one thing was certain — he would always be a jokester.
While in grade school, he penned a letter about his future. With the help of MLB FanCave and some of his baseball friends, a young Joe Kelly’s letter was re-told:
“Ten years from now … I am going to be a baseball player. I am going to be a pitcher, a shortstop and a first baseman. I’m going to be a home run hitter like Babe Ruth.
I will probably still be living with my parents, but we will have a bigger house. I will still be a handsome boy. I will still have brown hair. I will invite my parents to my baseball games, and I will get souvenirs, too.
When I get too old to play baseball like Cal Ripken’s age, I will be a SCUBA diver and find gold under the sea. Then, I will probably see sharks, jellyfish and stingrays. Then when I am 80 years old, I will quit. I will probably have grandkids, too.”
His grade on the assignment? “I got a ‘B’ on it,” he said. “Who gives a kid a B on it?”
Baseball and scuba diving aside, some might say that skateboarding was his first true love,
“I didn’t watch much baseball. I played baseball. I could care less about watching baseball when I was younger. I was either on my skateboard or playing baseball.”
Joe was good at both baseball and skateboarding — good enough to be sponsored by his local board shop — but after a fall from his board, his father forced him to stop skating and focus on baseball. Of course, Joe still has it on his mind, “When I’m done playing,” he said, “I’m skateboarding again.”
Up through middle school, when not skating, he threw and pitched often, perhaps a little too often, eventually sustaining a stress fracture in his arm. The injury caused Joe to quit baseball for some time.
It was also during middle school that Joe honed his dance skills. After seeing him work with his sister and her friends to learn some hip-hop steps, Joe’s mother Andrea asked him to take a salsa class with her. A fine way to fill the time while not playing baseball.
Joe was embarrassed at first, but warmed up to it fast. “I’m glad I did it,” he said. “Yeah, it was fun.”
Flash forward, looks like those lessons paid off.
High School Career
After taking some time away from the game, Kelly decided to get back to sport he loved once he was in high school.
While in high school at Corona high, he had mostly given up pitching. Actually, he only pitched in two games his senior year, posting a 1-1 record and a 4.14 ERA in a surprising 23.2 innings pitched. But his focus in high school was in the outfield; centerfield, to be exact.
Known then as a speedy centerfielder with a great throwing arm, Kelly also picked up a reputation as a pretty good hitter. In his senior year, he had a batting average of .371 (33-89), with an OPS of .946. He also picked up 12 RBI, 8 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 homerun in his 28 games played.
Joe Kelly was a three-year letter winner and was named first team all-league at Corona High. While his slight 5’10”, 148 pound didn’t have MLB scouts falling over themselves to come to games, that .371 batting average during his senior year was more than enough to earn him a scholarship to the University of California, Riverside.
High School Stats
High School Stats
Corona High School Panthers
Year – 05-05
Grade – Senior
G – 28
AVG – .371
OBP – .430
AB – 89
H – 33
RBI – 12
R – 26
2B – 8
HR – 1