Name: Paul Kelly
DOB: October 19, 1986
To pitch, or not to pitch, that was the question for Paul Kelly after he was drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2005 draft, Most within the organization saw him as a Jesse Crain-type pitcher, but he has far to many tools to just be a pitcher in the organization. He has tremendous range, a plus-arm, and has shown the ability to have gap power at the plate.
After overcoming a blood clot before his senior season of high school, it appears that there is almost nothing that can keep Kelly off the field. He loves to play, plays with passion, and brings a child like love to the game. He is one of the better people to be around in the clubhouse, and really keeps it light.
After being drafted by the Twins, Kelly was assigned to the Gulf Coast League, where he and Andrew Thompson manned the middle infield positions. He played well enough for the GCL Twins to warrant a call-up to Beloit, where he hit over .300 during his five game stint there.
For the Gulf Coast League Twins, Kelly batted .277 in 40 appearances, working mostly as the team's shortstop. During his time in the GCL, Kelly also drove in 20 runs, which were good enough for second on the team, and also finish second with 30 hits. He proved that he could definitely play at the professional level, and that he had a legitimate future in baseball.
For Beloit, Kelly batted .313, and showed some nice pop at the plate. Of his five hits, two were doubles, and he also smacked a home run. He also drove in four, scored twice, and posted a .625 slugging percentage.
Due to his excellent play at the plate, and in the field, Baseball America rated Kelly as the 12th best prospect in the Gulf Coast League. Joining Kelly on their top 20 list was fellow infielder Drew Thompson, as the two of them have really upgraded the Twins' prospect depth at the middle infield positions.
Batting and Power: Kelly is a very heady batter for someone so young, and he has surprising power. While he probably is not going to win any home run titles, he does have great gap power, and as he grows both physically and mentally at the plate, he should hit for more power than he does now. He also has a very good batters' eye, and while he did strikeout almost once a game, he should definitely improve on that number as he gets more acclimated with professional baseball. He did not seem at all phased at the plate after the move to full-season Beloit, and that says a lot about his confidence at the plate.
Baserunning and Speed: Kelly projects to be around a 12-15 stolen base a year guy, and he does have some quickness on the basepaths. He is also a very smart base runner, showing the ability to take the extra base when it is presented to him. He also should be able to get some more chances for stolen bases as he grows as a hitter, which should give him the confidence to try and steal a few more.
Defense:Kelly is absolutely tremendous with the glove, which is the area that separated him from mostly every other player in the Twins' organization. Coming into the 2005 season, Trevor Plouffe was considered the best defensive middle infielder in the organization, but Kelly is definitely challenging him for that role now. While Plouffe is nothing short of outstanding with the glove, he did struggle with the glove in 2005, while Kelly showed the ability to get to mostly every ball hit his way. While some believe that Plouffe is the best still with the glove, Baseball America made Kelly their choice for Best infield arm, and rightfully so. During his high school days, Kelly could throw a fastball 94-95 miles per hour, and he uses that same gun to nail runners as he makes plays deep in the hole.
ETA. Late 2009. Kelly has all the tools to make it to the Major Leagues as a solid middle infielder, and with the Twins' current problems at the shortstop position, he is in the perfect organization to be able to work his way up and make a splash on that level someday. Whether it is as a second baseman, or a shortstop, Kelly appears ready to begin his ascension through the organization. He is very young, and will start the season right where he left last season, playing for the Beloit Snappers. A full year of full-season ball at Beloit will suit him well, and he should be in Fort Myers by 2007. From there, he'll be in Double-A in 2008, and should make his Major League debut in 2009 when he will only be 22 years old. The Twins definitely need him to continue to grow, because they have a lot riding on him.