#16 - Don Kelly

This past offseason, the Tigers elected to let utility IF Shane Halter leave as a free agent, citing their needs at many other positions before having to look at a utility Infielder. Halter had filled that role very well for the past three seasons for the Tigers. But not to worry, the Tigers have a youngster coming up that could fill that role by next season.

The Tigers drafted IF Don Kelly in the 8th round of the 2001 amateur draft out of Point Park College in Pennsylvania. Kelly spent most of his first three seasons with the Tiger organization in the A-ball levels, although he did see a late-season promotion to AA Erie last year. Thusfar, he has played Shortstop at every level, but could start to be moved around this season.

Kelly had an excellent season for Lakeland, hitting .317 with an OBP over .400 for the Tigers of the south. Kelly wasn't as successful once he was promoted to the SeaWolves, but still didn't perform poorly – his OPS was still .764 – pretty solid for a no power Shortstop. His defense wasn't amazing, but it definitely isn't a concern with him.

Kelly has played at short ever since he joined the organization, but Kelly projects to be more of a utility player than an everyday starter. Kelly has a decent bat – but more importantly is a very patient hitter and his OBP has been consistently 100 points higher than his batting average, which would be a great asset for the Tigers who still don't have a great number of patient hitters on the big league club.

Kelly will probably start the season out with Erie, but he could definitely make a push for AAA Toledo with a solid spring. His ability to play everywhere in the infield is by far his most valuable asset – so it is possible he may end up at whichever level will allow him the most playing time, and the ability to play at multiple positions.

Kelly's future is more-than-likely as a utility infielder, although his gap power and propensity to take a walk may force the Tigers to give him an opportunity as an every day player – probably at Second Base where his less-than-stellar defense won't be as noticeable – and where his lack of power won't be a detriment where as it would at Third Base. But, realistically, Kelly is destined to take over as a utility infielder, and could take that role for the Tigers as early as next season.

Tigs Town Top Stories