Matt Kennelly, 24, came a long way to play professional baseball; the Louisville Bats catcher is from Australia. He signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds after being released by Atlanta in June. His younger brother Josh is also in the Reds’ minor-league system. A second brother, Tim, was released from the Texas Rangers organization in July, and a third brother, Sam, was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates last year. Matt Kennelly spoke recently with The Courier-Journal’s Michael Grant.
What led you to sign with the Reds?
It’s an opportunity that came up. It’s a good organization. I have a brother in the organization so that made it a little easier. He’s in Arizona rehabbing.
How does an Australian end up playing baseball in America?
I have a bunch of brothers in baseball. I have three other brothers playing professionally, as well. Baseball is getting big in Australia.
What are the big sports in Australia?
Australian football during winter and cricket during summer. I played both of them. It was a choice between baseball and football.
How did you end up being a catcher?
They put catchers gear in my locker. They forced me to catch, pretty much, when I got over here as a 16-year-old. I was a third baseman and pitched a little (in Australia). It took 12 months to feel comfortable as a catcher.
How long does it take to get home?
Probably a day-and-a-half. I’ll go from Louisville to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Sydney, Sydney to Perth. (The flight from L.A. to Sydney) is a solid 15 hours. I’m a professional sleeper. I can sleep anywhere. You get used to it with all these minor-league bus trips.
Why is your walk-up music Icona Pop’s “I Love It?”
I enjoy the song. I’m a house-music type of guy.
When you’re done playing, what do you hope to do?
I’d still love to be involved in the game, whether it’s managing or some sort of coaching.