REFUGIO – The Chicago White Sox, who drafted Refugio’s Jared Kelley in the June Major League Baseball draft, recently signed Kelley to a minor league contract and gave him a $3 million signing bonus.

The White Sox made the announcement on June 27. Kelley is a 2020 graduate of Refugio High School and is the son of John and Liz Kelley. He was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year and was dominant in limited action on the diamond this spring before COVID-19 concerns ended the season prematurely. In limited action this spring, Kelley did not allow a hit and struck out 34 batters over 12 scoreless innings.

Kelley was selected in the second round and was the 47th pick overall in the 2020 MLB draft.

“This is a moment I’ve been dreaming about for as long as I can remember and still can’t believe it’s real,” Kelley said. 

“None of this would be possible without the love and support from my mom, dad, brother and the many coaches and teammates I’ve had along the way. I’d like to thank the Chicago White Sox for taking a chance on me, and I promise to give you, and White Sox fans everywhere, everything I’ve got.”

MLB analysts said Kelley would almost certainly have been drafted sooner, but there was a fear that it would be difficult to sign him to a contract because of his high value.

Mike Shirley, director of amateaur scouting for the White Sox, told sportscasters on radio station 670 AM that while he understood those concerns, he sees Kelley as a big difference-maker and that he is proud of the White Sox organization for choosing and signing Kelley.

“Sometimes it gets a little bit cloudy as you’re going down the road with these players and trying to figure out where exactly they fit in the process,” Shirley said on the Mully & Haugh Show. “Do I think the price tag was probably perceived to be a little bit high? Yes, I do. The fact that we were able to stay on task, stay committed to how we had him evaluated and strike is something we were truly excited about. I just think he’s different. 

“You start to see his intangibles come out —how he’s going to handle this environment, how he’s going to proceed forward and make a difference for us.”

Kelley joins another highly regarded pitcher and 2020 draft pick, former University of Tennessee baseball player Garrett Crochet, as a centerpiece of their plans for the future.

“It was just a good game plan by the whole team,” Shirley said. “That’s the thing that’s most exciting. We land Garrett and Jared, two leadoffs, two guys that are really main pieces of the puzzle that we’re trying to move forward with. We couldn’t be more excited about both of them.”

Jeff Osborne is the editor of the County Press and can be reached at 361-526-2397 or at


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