Jason Kelly joined the Washington baseball staff as pitching coach in August of 2012, moving to the UW after having spent the previous six seasons developing a top-notching pitching staff at Cal Poly. He was promoted to Associate Head Coach on April 28, 2014.
In 2016, the Huskies ended the year sixth in the conference in ERA and as a trademark of staff's led by Kelly, they were among the best in fewest walks allowed ranking third in the Pac-12. The squad was full of inexperienced pitchers yet Kelly was able to establish the Huskies as one of the best staffs in the league, especially in the bullpen. At the backend of the bullpen was Troy Rallings, who was the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, a unanimous first team All-American and a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He also was huge in the development of Spencer Jones, who was a 10th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft and continues to mentor Noah Bremer, who earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.
As the Huskies' recruiting coordinator, Kelly assembled one of the top classes in UW history and one that ranks 18th nationally in the latest Perfect Game rankings. The class includes five players ranked among the nation's top-200 players and features four players that were selected in the 2016 MLB Draft.
In 2015, In 2015, Kelly was key to another accomplished pitching staff. The 3.01 team ERA on the season was the second best in the Pac-12 conference. Senior starting pitcher Tyler Davis was named to the All-Pac-12 team for the second consecutive year and became the UW all-time leader in innings pitched (358 2/3). He was selected in the 23rd round of the MLB draft, along with pitcher Troy Rallings, taken in the 36th round.
Kelly also played an important role in recruiting a talented class of 2015, ranked 34th nationally by Perfect Game. Among the 14 players, Kelly helped land Joe Demers, the 11th ranked right-handed pitcher in the nation.
In 2014, Kelly helped Washington to one of its most successful seasons ever. The Huskies (41-17, 21-9) reached their first NCAA post-season appearance in 10 years and finished second in the Pac-12 Conference race. It was the UW's best finish since 2004 and the 21 Conference wins were the second most since the north and south merged in 1999. The Huskies also acheived their highest national rankings in team history, reaching fifth in Baseball America, Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball.
The pitching staff played a huge role in Washington's 2014 success. The team ERA of 3.11 ranked third in the pitching-rich Pac-12 Conference and was the lowest by the Huskies since 1985. The Huskies also ranked second in the conference with 17 saves.
Kelly helped mentor and coach many players to break-out seasons in 2014. Davis emerged as one of the best pitchers in the nation, going 11-2 with a 1.60 ERA, earning All-Pac-12 Honors. Davis was a Golden Spikes Semifinalist, Dick Howser Award semifinalist and Gregg Olson Breakout Player of the Year watch list.
Another starting pitcher Jeff Brigham broke out under Kelly and earned honorable mention All-Conference honors and was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. In all, three pitchers were part of a school record eight players selected in the 2014 Draft.
In 2013, Kelly made an immediate impact at Washington, helping mold the Huskies' pitching staff that boasted a 3.88 ERA. One of the pitchers under his wings -- Austin Voth -- ended up third in the conference with 98 strikeouts and was drafted in the fifth round by the Nationals. The pitching staff's success under Kelly came as no surprise to Coach Meggs.
"Jason Kelly was the first person I called when I knew I would be hiring a pitching coach," said Coach Meggs. "JK worked for me in Chico for two years before taking the job at Cal Poly, so I not only know him well but we have had success together. JK will make our pitchers better, he will get them prepared for professional baseball and he will keep us on track toward the postseason.
"Any long term success we have in this program will depend on our pitching staff, and I have all the confidence in the world in JK," Meggs continued. "I am truly excited for our pitchers; not only are they going to keep getting better but they are going to enjoy coming to practice every day. JK is going to be great for our program."
In 2012, Coach Kelly led the Cal Poly pitching staff to a stellar 3.48 earned run average, led by a pair of starters, Joey Wagman and Kyle Anderson. Wagman posted a 9-3 record and a 2.33 ERA with just 21 walks in 108.1 innings while Anderson was 10-1 with a 3-40 ERA, walking just 16 in 92.2 frames.
As a staff, Cal Poly pitchers surrendered just 155 bases on balls in 499 innings last season, good enough to rank No. 27 in the nation (out of 291 Division I teams) in walks per nine innings.
In 2011, under Kelly's direction, the Mustangs posted a team ERA of 3.60, with 152 walks in 460.1 innings. The 3.60 ERA was the best in Cal Poly's 17-year Division I existence to that point (and was bested by the 3.48 mark the following season).
In his first season at Cal Poly, he coached a pair of pitchers (Evan Reed and Thomas Eager) selected inside the first five rounds of the Major League Draft.
Kelly joined the Cal Poly staff as pitching coach in 2007. Before that, he'd spent two seasons with Meggs at Chico State, helping the Wildcats to the Division II College World Series in each of those seasons.
The 2005 team finished the season 42-16-1 and the 2006 squad was 46-21 and finished as national runner-up. Kelly's 2005 Chico State pitching staff posted a 3.00 ERA, sixth-best in the country.
Prior to coaching at Chico State, Kelly spent one season (2004) working in baseball operations at Cal Poly and one season (2003) coaching at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. He also coached summer college teams from 2002-04, helping both the San Luis Obispo Blues and the Anchorage Bucs to the National Baseball Congress World Series.
Kelly was a pitcher at Cal Poly in 1999. After redshirting in 2000, he went on to pitch at Cuesta in 2001 and at Missouri Valley College in 2002, helping the Vikings to a regional title game appearance in 2002.
A 1998 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, Calif., Kelly and his wife, Tracy are the parents of two young children, daughter Peyton and son Cade.
What They're Saying About Jason Kelly:
"The pitching staffs at Cal Poly reflected the outstanding knowledge, teaching skills, and competitiveness of pitching coach Jason Kelly. It was clear that Jason was ahead of the curve in his know-how and ability to develop pitchers, and also in their ability to mix pitches and never give in. The confidence and desire to compete was always conspicuous on the Cal Poly staff, a testimony to the completeness of Jason's ability to develop the complete pitcher. The choice of Jason as UW's pitching coach is a great one, and a loss to the Cal Poly program."
- Mike Gillespie, head coach, UC Irvine"Jason Kelly is one of the brightest young pitching coaches in the country. What a steal for UW! His track record for developing pitchers speaks for itself. He has been around some of the best in Larry Lee and Jerry Weinstein. It was a flat-out nightmare to face his pitchers and him calling a game! The Huskies just got better."
- Rich Hill, head coach, San Diego
"Coach Meggs found a keeper in Jason Kelly. I've competed against Jason's pitching staffs over the years and they are always well prepared and they compete well. Jason Kelly is one of the young bright stars in the pitching industry."
- Dave Serrano, head coach, Tennessee (former head coach at Cal State Fullerton)
"Jason Kelly is one of the great young pitching coaches in the college game. Jason is sharp and innovative and he will not only be a great addition to the UW baseball staff but he will be a positive resource for the entire Northwest baseball community. Great hire by the Huskies!"
- Jerry Weinstein, current Major League catching coach for the Colorado Rockies and assistant coach on the 1992 & 1996 U.S. Olympic teams