Wingnuts Land Slugger
WICHITA, KS- The Wichita Wingnuts have announced the latest addition to their roster with the signing of slugging infielder Kelly Hunt.
A 29th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2003, Hunt comes to the Wingnuts after playing for the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League in 2008. With Florence, Hunt produced an MVP-caliber season, hitting .308 with 26 home runs and 73 RBI in 75 games. Hunt's 26 long balls, .614 slugging percentage, and ratio of one home run for every 11.35 at bats all topped the Frontier League.
Now in his seventh year of professional baseball, Hunt has hit at least 18 home runs in each of the last five seasons. During that span, Hunt has totaled 114 home runs and 390 RBI in 536 games played, for an average of 35 home runs and 118 RBI per 162 games.
Hunt, who will be 28 years old at the start of the season, has played in the independent ranks since 2007, splitting time with the South Coast League's Aiken Foxhounds and the Atlantic League's York Revolution two seasons ago. Hunt dominated in the SCL in 78 games with Aiken, finishing third in batting average (.337), fifth in doubles (20), first in home runs (24), fourth in RBI (68), and first in slugging percentage (.694). When Aiken's season ended, Hunt went on to hit three homeruns in 12 games with York.
The right handed batting Hunt reached AA in 2006 with the Erie SeaWolves, bashing 22 home runs which ranked third in the Eastern League. On July 1st of that season, Hunt cranked three home runs while knocking in seven, both career-bests. In 2005 while playing for the Lakeland Flying Tigers in the pitcher-dominated Florida State League, Hunt finished fourth with 86 RBI while hitting 18 home runs. Hunt played for the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Midwest league in his first full professional season in 2004, hitting .275 with the fourth most home runs (21) and the third most RBI (102).
Hunt played collegiately at Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he hit .439 as a senior in 2003 before Detroit selected him in the draft. His professional career began shortly thereafter when he hit .257 in 47 games for the Oneonta Tigers of the New York-Penn League.
The Toledo, OH native has split time at first and third base each of the last two years, and is expected see time at both positions as well as designated hitter with the Wingnuts. Hunt, who stands at six feet four inches, 245 pounds, was recruited by Wingnuts' manager Kevin Hooper, who spent three years of his own career in the Tigers' organization.
Hunt joins returning Wingnuts players Michael Thompson, Dustan Mohr, Richard Salazar, Brenan Herrera, Brad Davis, Steve Pearson, Blake Gailen, Doug Hurn, Justin Young, and Amad Stephens, as well as fellow newcomers Derek Jennings, Zach Goldberg, Scott Daniels, Bill Duffy, Jeff Reekers, Gabe Medina, Dustin Smith, Tyler Rhoden, Nathan Parker, and Derek Blacksher to give Wichita 21 players under contract for the 2009 season. American Association teams can carry up to 28 players through Spring Training. The Wingnuts expect to make two more high-profile player announcements, including one with local ties, in the next week.
The Wingnuts open their second season on May 14th when they host the Lincoln Saltdogs at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium at 7:05 p.m. Season tickets and ticket packages are on sale now. Meanwhile, the Wichita Thunder returns home this weekend for two games, beginning with a contest versus Texas on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Kansas Coliseum. For more information, call the Wingnuts/Thunder office at (316) 264-4625.
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