Make no mistake, Jarred Kelenic’s promotion to AA Arkansas wasn’t simply given to him. It wasn’t some preconceived or scheduled gift from Jerry Dipoto for his top prospect. He earned it. He worked hard, put up big numbers, and punched his ticket to the next level. In fact, that’s the way Kelenic has always handled his business. Barely 20 years old, Kelenic possesses the self-control and order not seen in most folks twice his age.
Per Source: Jarred Kelenic has been promoted to AA Arkansas.— Joe (@JoeDoyleWSU) August 10, 2019
That self-regulation has helped Kelenic in a number of ways this year. Whether it be digesting an unforeseen trade, dealing with a couple of injuries, or the simple fact that he was a teenager far from home, he understands there’s a process for everything.
“Everything is step-by-step,” Kelenic said. “Everything that happens allows me to eliminate a criticism someone could put on me in the future. I just keep growing.”
Kelenic is in the midst of a breakout campaign. Most scouts knew the Waukesha, Wisconsin product was a potential 5-tool talent, but not many would have predicted a showcase like this at such a young age.
Through 96 games at West Virginia and Modesto combined, Kelenic has proven far too advanced for both leagues. He’s riding a .300/.375/.539 slash in 2019. The batting average and slugging percentages rank among the best in the Mariners organization.
“Honestly, it’s a one game at a time mentality,” Kelenic said. “That being said, it bothers me if I go 1 for 4 and not 2 for 4 or better in each game.”
It’s that type of mindset that has led Kelenic to such great heights at such a young age. But this was instilled far before baseball entered the picture.
As one might imagine, Kelenic comes from a disciplined, athletic household. His mother Lisa is a personal trainer and fitness instructor. His father Tom has a well-decorated history of building out training facilities and baseball diamonds in Waukesha. Hard work and structure come easy for Seattle’s prized blue chip.
“Jarred is really, really big on goals,” Lisa Kelenic said. “Ever since he was a young child, he finds the path to run on to reach a goal. He stays on that path, he sets the finish line. He observes how others before him achieve their goals, especially in baseball.”
Indeed, he is a student of the game. He doesn’t ignore the footsteps before him. He’s studious and present. It’s a routine playing on loop in the back of his head.
Tireless work in the weight room, as well as a dedication to clean eating and cutting out junk foods are two of his pillars. The healthy structure he’s created for himself helped allow him to show up to Spring Training this season at close to 210 pounds — nearly 15 pounds stronger than he was a year prior.
Closer to 200 pounds now, Kelenic knows his body better than anyone and recognizes what he’d need to look like in February to carry a strong core all season.
“I know what my body ceiling is now,” Kelenic said. “Now that I’ve been that size, I know what I’m capable of and where I should be each offseason.”
But his routine hasn’t come without bumps in the road. Having never suffered an injury of any kind, 2019 has been a learning experience in a number of ways. Having dealt with a sprained wrist and sprained ankle, Kelenic has had to learn how to deviate from his carefully crafted regimen in sight of the bigger picture.
“The ankle actually helped me to a certain degree,” Kelenic said. “At the time, I was struggling and it allowed me to sit down and dissect my swing and ask why.”
He’d go on to slash .379/.413/.586 after returning from the injury. Is it really that easy?
“Oh let me tell you, when he gets in a rhythm, you won’t want to break his rhythm,” Lisa Kelenic said.
The Mets got him out of one of those rhythms by trading him to the Mariners in December. Just 19 years old at the time, it came as a surprise to Kelenic who just a few months prior was selected by New York with the 6th overall pick.
But he wasn’t phased.
“All it means is one team wanted you enough to go and get you,” Kelenic said. “The Mets made my dreams come true. I’m so happy to be with the Mariners. They’ve treated me so well. Jerry and those guys made me feel incredibly welcomed.”
It wasn’t quite as easy for the Mets brass.
“Oh it was devastating for (Jim D’Aloia),” Kelenic said.
D’Aloia, the Mets Scouting Director, wasn’t the only member of the Mets front office sad to see Kelenic go, though the entire organization has continued to show nothing but huge support.
“Even when I’m with an entirely different team, those guys continue to support me,” Kelenic said. “It’s really cool. It says a lot about the class of those guys over there.”
His family agrees wholeheartedly.
“It still surprises me seeing him in New York newspapers after all this time,” Lisa Kelenic laughed. “He’s 19. He was yours for 4 months. You broke up with him.”
“I do hope everyone wins on the deal and we will always be appreciative to the Mets,” Lisa Kelenic said. “A lot of Mets fans continue to be very supportive of his development. Any positive support for an athlete trying to achieve their goals is powerful.”
Kelenic will land in Missouri on Saturday and will likely slot into the Arkansas Travelers lineup Sunday night for his AA debut against the Springfield Cardinals.
His family will be present, as they always are for any promotion their son earns.
“Well, as you can probably expect, Jarred is very excited and surprised but ready for this next challenge,” Lisa Kelenic said. “It means a lot to him that the organization has such confidence in his ability.”
With any luck, the Mariners top prospect’s hard work and discipline will continue to pay dividends as he ascends through the organizational ranks. Most folks agree the jump from A+ to AA is the most difficult leap a prospect can make in their development. There will hurdles along the way and it may be a lengthy process. Kelenic seems equipped for the task at hand.