Former utility man Kelly hired as Tigers scout

Detroit bolsters baseball operations, expands in analytics

September 29th, 2017
Don Kelly played for the Tigers from 2009-14, and he retired in Spring Training after two seasons with the Marlins. (AP)Carlos Osorio/AP

MINNEAPOLIS -- Don Kelly finally has a full-time position with the Tigers.

After six years in Detroit as a super-utility player and a post-retirement tryout as a scout and instructor, Kelly has been promoted to the Tigers' Major League scouting staff. He was one of three additions to the scouting roster announced Friday as part of a bolstering of Detroit's baseball operations department.

The Tigers also hired Jim Elliott and Paul Mirocke as Major League scouts, and expanded their analytics department by hiring Danny Vargovick, Drew Jordan and Shane Piesik as analysts. In addition, they promoted Sam Menzin to director of pro scouting in addition to his previous title as director of baseball operations.

The moves continue general manager Al Avila's plan to reinvest money in baseball operations as the Tigers move away from big payrolls and free agents and try to develop more talent in their system.

"Today's announcement is another step in the building of our infrastructure within baseball operations," Avila said in a statement. "Growth in the analytics area is key in our goal of making sound, informed baseball decisions both when evaluating players, and in providing data to the big league players, manager and his coaching staff. The additions in scouting are important for us in our search for impact-type players to bring into our organization."

Kelly, a Tigers Draft pick in 2001, became a fan favorite in Detroit as a player from 2009-14, hitting a postseason home run at Yankee Stadium in a winner-take-all Game 5 of the 2011 AL Division Series and a game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 2 of the 2012 AL Division Series against Oakland. After two seasons with the Marlins, Kelly announced his retirement in Spring Training and rejoined the Tigers in a baseball-operations capacity, giving him a chance to see what role best fit him. Based out of his home in Pittsburgh, he traveled around Detroit's farm system for instruction while going on assignment during the season to bolster the scouting ranks.

Now, Kelly will focus on scouting, joining a veteran crew of scouts that in many cases date back to his playing days with Detroit. While the Tigers are investing heavily in analytics to keep pace with other organizations, they're bucking the trend of other clubs that have reduced their Major League scouting ranks in recent years. As the Tigers have started their rebuilding efforts, they've been improving in "deep scouting," knowing other organizations' farm systems and identifying potentially underrated prospects.

The Tigers plucked Elliott from the Padres, where he had been a pro scout for the last seven years. He worked his first two years there alongside current Tigers vice president of player personnel Scott Bream. Elliott grew up in Maumee, Ohio, played college baseball at Xavier University, then got into scouting with the MLB Scouting Bureau.

Mirocke joins the Tigers from the Brewers, where he had scouting duties on the pro, amateur and international side. He spent 26 years before that with the MLB Scouting Bureau, 14 of them as MLB's pro scouting coordinator.