It’s finally (reportedly) happening. Jeff Passan of ESPN reports the Seattle Mariners will be calling up OF Jarred Kelenic prior to this Thursday’s game against Cleveland, which kicks off a seven game homestand. Kelenic is the preseason No. 4 prospect in MLB per Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, No. 5 per FanGraphs, and No. 6 per Baseball Prospectus.
OF Jarred Kelenic, the No. 3 prospect in baseball, is expected to be called up by the Mariners on Thursday, sources familiar with the situation tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 11, 2021
While things can obviously change, the plan is to promote Kelenic for the first game of Seattle's home series vs. Cleveland.
This is, without hyperbole, the most talented position player prospect the Mariners have called up in the 21st century, with hype surpassing Dustin Ackley, Mike Zunino, Adam Jones, et al, and it is incredibly exciting. Seattle has had one of the worst position player groups in all of baseball so far this year, and ranks 29th in (all stats from non-pitchers) wOBA (.291), 30th in batting average (.210), 24th in wRC+ (91), and 28th in strikeout rate (26.5%). Jarred Kelenic is not enough to save this offense alone, and is a 21 year old who hasn’t failed for an extended period of time on a baseball field since he was 18 and potentially ever. The expectations are massive, deserved, terrifying, and absolutely exhilirating.
Kelenic made a blistering case for cracking the Opening Day roster, even after missing a week and a half of spring training action with a mild knee strain. Ultimately, the club chose Taylor Trammell, Jake Fraley, and José Marmolejos over Kelenic, stating a desire to get Kelenic more reps in games before bringing him up to the majors. While Kelenic has quite a small body of work as a pro compared to many players promoted at a young age, Kelenic has dominated every level of baseball he has been given an opportunity at, and scouting appraisals continuously noted the big league caliber of his tools and approach at the plate, in particular as they pertained to the alternatives Seattle has ahead of him in the bigs. The Mariners have become the league’s poster child for service time manipulation in their handling of Kelenic thanks to the Rotary Club address by disgraced former Team President and CEO Kevin Mather, who explicitly stated a lack of desire to begin Kelenic’s “service time clock” in explaining why he had not been promoted prior. By keeping Kelenic off their big league roster, through April, Kelenic will be unable to earn a “full season” of work and Seattle will likely retain total control over his contract through 2027 instead of 2026. It is incredibly exciting to see Kelenic the player even as the chicanery from the organization around delaying his arrival has been dispiriting.
As expected, Kelenic has done nothing short of raking since making his Triple-A debut, lighting his Tacoma career off with a bang with a two-home run debut that captured national attention. In 20 plate appearances he’s already amassed eight hits, with two walks and four strikeouts, good for a wRC+ of 216. If he plays tomorrow in Tacoma, he’ll amass a total of six games in his Triple-A career, and thus far all of them have been multi-hit. As we write this and news of his promotion trickles throughout the Mariners fansphere, Kelenic already has a hit in tonight’s contest against El Paso, currently in the third inning. In addition to ticking all sorts of boxes in his hitting (hitting for power, hitting to multiple fields, hitting off lefties, hitting off-speed, hitting submariners), Kelenic has also showed he has legitimate center field chops, manning Tacoma’s massive outfield with aplomb.
If you’re curious about what could slow down Seattle’s superstar from rocketing to the moon like DogeCoin, Joe did a piece a week or so ago examining what kinds of obstacles the 21-year-old will have to face in his first shot in the bigs. We will say that we’ve been watching Kelenic move through several levels in the Mariners system and adjusting to and overcoming every obstacle he’s seen, from dealing with pitchers who have only a passing acquaintance with the strike zone, to coping with advanced breaking balls, to premium velocity from top-tier prospects. While keeping expectations for a 21-year-old in his first taste of the bigs in check, it will certainly be exciting to see Jarred roaming the outfield at T-Mobile Park and hopefully injecting a spark into Seattle’s somnambulant offense. Go Jarred go!