Broken Dreams Rapidly Piling Up For Seattle Mariners

If there is one team in baseball that can’t have good things, it’s the Seattle Mariners.

This is a team that, over its 44 years of existence, has had one good six-year stretch. The Mariners’ recent farm system, to put it kindly, is a horror show. Over the past decade, the Mariner’s minor league system has churned out one consistently above-average regular position player. Third baseman Kyle Seager is the winner of Survivor: Mariners Minors. Behind Seager lie the shattered careers of the likes of Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, D.J Peterson, Nick Franklin, Justin Smoake, Brad Miller, and many more. 

Every time the Mariners call up their latest highlighted touted youngster and they inevitably struggle, fans of the team can only sit in the corner rocking back and forth chanting, “It can only get better, it can only get better, it can only get better … ” over and over again.

We’re only halfway through the 2021 season, but whatever curse it is that plagues the Mariners rising talent appears to have struck again with a vengeance.

The team’s future core is supposed to be built around Kyle Lewis, Jarred Keleneic, and Evan White. Kelenic and White essentially skipped Triple-A Tacoma and went to the big leagues. White made his debut in 2020 after signing a team-friendly extension and struggled mightily at the plate despite playing gold glove defense at first base. Unfortunately, first base is not widely considered a glove-first position — it’s more of a bonus if a player can play well defensively there. For example, John Olerud, who starred for the Mariners in the early-2000’s, won three gold gloves for the Mariners…while also slashing around .300/.400/.450 every year. 

White barely kept his average above .100 in 2020, and again did the same in 2021 before going on the injured list. 

Lewis overcame a series of devastating knee injuries to make his debut late in 2019 and won Rookie of the Year in 2020. He was off to a bit of a rocky start in 2021, suffering a knee injury that kept him out for the first month of the season and then seeing his strikeout percentage rise upon his return. However, over his last 30 games, he had begun to heat up. Then he made a leaping attempt at a line drive and landed awkwardly on his knee- the same one that has already cost him so much time.

The Mariners announced he would miss a few games with knee soreness. Then that knee soreness turned into a partially torn meniscus that would keep him out for a few weeks. Then General Manager Jerry DiPoto said that Lewis would likely be out for several months. With the team’s history, that likely means that Lewis’s leg has fallen off.

The travails of White and Lewis bring us to possibly the most hyped prospect in baseball in Jarred Kelenic. Kelenic has ripped the cover off the ball at every level he played in. He impressed in a half dozen games in Tacoma to start the season, getting a quick call up to Seattle. In his second game, he ripped a home run and a pair of doubles. Then…he stopped hitting. He hasn’t had a hit since May 25, and as of Monday, was in an 0-for-38 slump. This is the first time Kelenic has struggled for an extended period at any professional level. 

As countless young players have discovered before him, it’s difficult to survive in the major leagues on raw talent alone. He’ll have to adapt, and the team will need to make sure he has the support he needs to keep improving. Yes, he’s young, yes, this is the first taste of major league baseball. But still, 0-for-38 is 0-for-38, and as shown by the list of broken players above, the Mariners don’t have much of a history when it comes to improving or even helping young players who struggle. After I wrote that sentence, the Mariners shipped him back to Triple-A Tacoma, where hopefully the minor league staff can get him back on track. 

Once again, Mariners fans can only sit in a dark corner, rock back and forth, muttering, “It can only get better,”  and hope that this time — it does.

About Ben McCarty 35 Articles
Ben McCarty is a freelance writer and digital media producer who lives in Vancouver. He can usually be found in his backyard with his family, throwing the ball for his dog, or telling incredibly long, convoluted bedtime stories. He enjoys Star Wars, rambling about sports, and whipping up batches of homemade barbeque sauce.