Cardinals’ catcher Carson Kelly is one of the highest-touted prospects in recent memory. He is anticipated to be the successor to Yadier Molina, which is a big step. The transition from Molina to the future is bound to happen eventually.

And it should begin in 2018.

Let’s make one thing clear: Molina is not washed up, but at 35, he isn’t in the prime of his career either, especially when his 2017 season ended with taking multiple foul balls to the head. The Cardinals did pull a smart move shutting him down the rest of the year, but next year, the transition needs to begin if they are truly invested in having Kelly become the future catcher of the organization.

It won’t be easy, either. Molina is a beloved staple in St. Louis, as well as being the longest-tenured athlete in the city by a long shot. To have Kelly come in and just start taking in more games and reps behind the plate will be a challenge.

He’ll have to develop chemistry with every starter, chemistry that Molina has had for years (especially with Adam Wainwright).

In 2017, Kelly only made a handful of appearances, lots of which were just as a pinch-hitter. If the Cardinals want him to be the future star of the team, that needs to change.