Position: First Base Height: 6-5 Weight: 240
Born: 4/15/1981 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Hunt was a 29th round selection of the Tigers during the 2003 draft out of Bowling Green State University (BGSU). While at BGSU, Hunt put together an outstanding senior campaign, including being named an All-Mid American Conference First Team player, and a Louisville Slugger All-American. Hunt posted an incredible 1.213 OPS and a .439 batting average while pummeling MAC pitching. Kelly struggled in his first exposure to minor league baseball in 2003, posting a .257/.322/.363 line for short-season Oneonta. Despite very good power numbers in college, Hunt only knocked 2 homeruns during the New York-Penn League season. Kelly's sophomore season was far more encouraging as he put up a .275/.308/.441 line, including 21 homeruns and 28 doubles in a very difficult environment for hitters.
A huge man with incredible power potential, Hunt is the prototypical "slugger." He can drive the ball to all fields with authority, but does try to pull the ball too much at times. Kelly has displayed solid walk and strikeout rates in the past, but has struggled a bit since turning pro. Hunt sometimes struggles to adjust to breaking pitches, and will have to advance his knowledge of the strike zone to become a more complete offensive threat. On the bases, Hunt is no threat to steal, and is pretty much a station-to-station runner. Defensively, Kelly is a solid player despite his limited range. He gets to most balls and makes the routine plays without trouble. He may never be a top flight defender, but it is unlikely to hold him back either. Offensively, Kelly profiles closely with someone like Jesse Barfield, and with continued maturity, he could surpass such a projection. There are some concerns that Hunt's moderate bat speed may hinder him at higher levels, but so far that has not proven to be true.
Performance Year Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB SLG% OPS 2004
At this point, Kelly has had no significant injuries.
After his impressive offensive display in the pitcher friendly confines of Fifth Third Ballpark, Hunt will take his slugging act south to Lakeland for the 2005 season. At age 24, Kelly will need to string together another impressive season to remain on track for a Major League career. Hunt should continue to display impressive power numbers, but his average and on-base percentage could tail off as he faces more polished pitchers. Overall, look for Hunt to continue as a legitimate power prospect, possibly making the leap to the next level. With Carlos Pena, Juan Tejada, and Chris Shelton ahead of him, Kelly will likely need to be very impressive this season and next to get an honest shot in Detroit.