Mingus Union High School senior Tyler Kelly took the next step to accomplishing his dreams when he signed his National Letter of Intent to play at the University of New Mexico on Thursday, Nov. 9.
Kelly said he will be used as a utility player for the Lobos, an NCAA Division I program, and will likely study business.
“I have goals to get drafted and then make it to major leagues, that’s my main goal,” Kelly said. “My first goal is to make it to the major leagues and if that doesn’t happen my second goal is to be a Navy SEAL.”
He has been a mainstay for the Marauders program each of his three seasons. Through his first two years, he had 68 RBI, 76 hits and 64 runs scored with a .413 batting average, per MaxPreps.com.
Kelly had 19 stolen bases and at least nine during his junior season, for which statistics were not available. Through two seasons he had three home runs and through the early part of last season had six as the team’s leadoff batter.
As a sophomore, he was selected First Team All-Division III, Section I.
Playing at a big university brings him one step closer to that goal of playing Major League Baseball.
Other big schools like Grand Canyon University, University of Hawaii and University of Arizona, as well as Yavapai College, recruited Kelly, but New Mexico felt like the right choice for him.
“To be honest it was just the best fit for me. I liked their campus, I liked their coaches. It just seemed like a good fit for me,” Kelly said.
Growing up, Kelly was successful at baseball right away. First-year Mingus head baseball coach Tim McKeever said that Kelly is one of the best pure athletes he has ever seen. At eight years old, he was playing majors in Little League, the only one to do so.
“At five we knew he was special,” McKeever said. “His love and passion for the game is just amazing.”
He was also recently named Grand Canyon Region Player of the Year for football. He said that some schools were talking to him about playing football, and the prospect of playing both was there, but remained focused on baseball.
“I’ve just been playing baseball longer and it’s been my passion longer,” Kelly said. “So I’ve put a lot more work into baseball than I have football. I just felt like that carried me on more than football did.”
While McKeever said that Kelly has that god-given talent, his success on the diamond has not come without hard work.
“His work ethic on all of his skills, hitting, fielding, throwing, it’s second to none,” McKeever said. “That kid has worked his tail off and couldn’t be happier as he grows and the future is so bright for him. It’s pretty amazing to see a kid that you’ve watched grow up have that success.”
His signing is not only a big deal for him, but McKeever also hopes it motivates other players in the community.
“There’s been kind of a drought for a while. It’s exciting and I hope everyone rallies around him and his accomplishment and hopefully it’ll show the younger guys too that if you work hard you can fulfill your dream,” McKeever said.