Carson Kelly was Oregon's top recruit in 2012, but the St. Louis Cardinals drafted the catcher in the second round and gave him $1.6 million to skip college.

The Cardinals went back to Portland's Westview High School three years later to draft Kelly's brother, Parker, in the 34th round. The two-time all-Metro League selection kept his commitment to play at Oregon.

"There was a decision to make, but a lot of it was that I wanted to go on a different path than my brother," Parker Kelly said. "He signed out of high school and my parents joke that they had two boys do it two different ways. It was a tough decision, but either way we were both going to get our degree."

Carson Kelly's path led to the major leagues where he has become the regular catcher in St. Louis with Yadier Molina expected to be sidelined for a month with a severe groin injury.

"He and I talk every day," Parker Kelly said. "It could be about school, life or baseball. He has been a big influence on my life and a role model for me."

Carson recently earned a degree in economics from Oregon State after taking online courses for six years while playing in the minor leagues. Parker will complete his degree in general social science in just over three years when he graduates in the summer.

After boosting his draft stock as a junior, Parker Kelly may soon have the chance to get his pro career started if he is drafted again next month and elects to skip his senior season.

"There has been some talk of the draft, but I can't worry about that," he said. "I haven't worried about it all year, just doing my job."

Kelly auditioned for roles in the lineup and the bullpen during his first two years at Oregon while compiling a 4.59 ERA in 33 1/3 innings.

Last summer, Kelly struck out 22 with a 4.33 ERA during 18 2/3 innings with the Orleans Firebirds in the prestigious Cape Cod League for college players.

"I was a two-way guy my first two years here, so getting the opportunity to go to the Cape, I sat down with the coaches and they said pitching would be my path so I stepped into that role and got my opportunity," Kelly said. "I learned a lot, failed a lot and succeeded and that was big for me coming back to college."

Kelly has emerged as one of Oregon's top arms in the back of the bullpen at 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings this season. Kelly did not allow a run in his first 14 innings this season and has given up three earned runs in his last 18 1/3 innings as the Ducks (25-24, 11-13 Pac-12) visit No. 17 UCLA (32-16, 15-9) for a three-game series beginning Friday.

"We wanted him to be what he is right now and I think focusing on pitching, going to the Cape, getting another year around (pitching coach) Jason Dietrich, and being around his brother became a perfect storm for Parker along with his unbelievable commitment and attention to detail," Oregon coach George Horton said. "His workout, diet, everything across the board, he treats it like he is a professional pitcher. The experience at the Cape, he got confident and brought a different mindset back and jumped in with both feet. He deserves everything he is getting right now."

Oregon started the season with all-American sophomore Kenyon Yovan back as the closer, but he was moved to the starting rotation and replaced by Ryne Nelson. Kelly has regularly been counted on to pitch the seventh and eighth innings to set up Nelson in the ninth.

"They needed somebody to step up in that role and I thought it could be my position," he said. "I love pitching with the game on the line. I am coming in a lot of times in high-leverage situations and so I enjoy that. My first two years I was a one-inning guy but I have worked my tail off to get where I can go as long as needed. I had to make a big change in my diet and flexibility stuff and getting mentally ready. Going three or four innings in the back half of games, especially in those tight spots, I feel like I thrive on adrenaline and love being in that spot."