3 Diamondbacks Non-Roster Invitees Who Could Make the Opening Day Roster
Keone Kela, whose nickname is Llave, which loosely translated is a firing mechanism of a gun, underwent Tommy John surgery on May 19th 2021 to repair the damaged UCL in his right elbow, He is not expected to return until at least the middle of the 2022 season.
Kela was born in Los Angeles but much of his father's family is from Hawaii. His grandparents are from Keaukaha where Kela spent each summer growing up. Ironically, he was chosen by the SeattleMariners in the 29th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but did not sign and enrolled at Everett Community College, where he played college baseball as a center fielder for one season.
Then the Texas Rangers selected him as a 12th round draft pick with the 396th overall selection in 2012. The Rangers invited Kela to Spring Training in 2015 where he made the Rangers' Opening Day roster. He had elbow surgery and missed three months of the 2016 season however, he still pitched to a 5-1 record. He was anointed as the Ranger's closer in 2018.
On July 31st 2018 he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later, who ended up being Sherten Apostel. His time in Pittsburgh was not as successful. In an April 7, 2019 game against the Cincinnatti Reds, Kela was ejected after his role in a bench clearing incident On July 30, 2019, Kela was involved in a second bench-clearing fracas against the Reds, and was suspended for 2 games. Kela made 32 appearances for the Pirates in 2019, pitching to a 2.12 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 29.2 innings of work. In 2020, Kela only made 3 appearances for the team, giving up 1 run in 2.0 innings with 3 strikeouts.
On February 18, 2021, Kela signed a one-year, 1.2MM contract with the San Diego Padres In 12 games for San Diego, Kela pitched to a 2-2 record and 5.06 ERA with 13 strikeouts.