When the Seattle Mariners unloaded the back end of Robinson Cano’s 10 year $228M contract by packaging it with the dynamic closer, Edwin Diaz, the gem of the return from the New York Mets was young outfielder Jarred Kelenic. The lefthanded outfielder was drafted by the Mets sixth overall in the 2018 June Amateur Draft straight out of high school in Wisconsin. In the Mariners organization, Kelenic played 49 games in the Sally league in West Virginia where he was 2 ½ years younger than the average competition. He was hitting .303/.391/.564 with 10 HR, 26 RBI, and 7 SB in 215 PA. This week the Mariners top hitting prospect was promoted to High A Modesto in the California League.
Kelenic, who won’t turn 20 until July 16th, was originally thought to be a speedy baserunner with plus defensive upside. But in his most recent Wheelhouse podcast, GM Jerry Dipoto noted that with some swing changes, Kelenic has begun to grow into some real power. Given his age, the power should continue to develop as he matures and grows into his body.
On the 20/80 scale of scouting, where 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average, and 70-80 is well above average, Fangraphs scouting grades of Kelenic have his current game power as 20 and his future game power potential as 50. However, the scouting report dates back to March and hasn’t been updated. In an era where swing changes do make dramatic differences, Mariners fans can either trust the internal club evaluations or take it with a grain of salt that Dipoto tends to always place a positive spin on the organization on his podcast.
Nevertheless, in this past offseason, the Mariners have gone from being considered to have one of the worst, if not THE worst, farm systems in baseball, to being considered at least respectable, somewhere in the middle of the pack. The bullish Keith Law at ESPN ranked the Mariners farm system 21stback in February, up from 30ththe previous year. In fact, he began his Insider review, “They’re not the worst!” Also, in January, Law slotted Kelenic in as the 38thoverall prospect in baseball and second in the Mariners organization behind just behind southpaw pitcher Justus Sheffield, also acquired in the offseason.
While the 2019 major league season for the Mariners may have already seen its high point with the torrid start of 13-2 (only to be followed by 11-31 as of Thursday morning), the future is looking up thanks to young, rising stars like Jarred Kelenic. Watch his progress when he gets to Modesto.