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With Jarred Kelenic, Mariners seeing what an elite prospect looks like

Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic was promoted to High-A Modesto on Tuesday. (Getty)

“Uncharted territory.”

That’s where the Seattle Mariners are right now, according to ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan. Not for anything happening on the field with the major league team, but for what is going on in the lower levels of their farm system.

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That uncharted territory Passan mentioned during a conversation with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk was in reference to 19-year-old outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who Passan called an “elite” prospect the likes of which the Mariners haven’t had in recent memory.

“We’ve literally never had a conversation about elite prospects because the Mariners haven’t had (any),” Passan said. “… It’s almost like you guys are getting the internet for the first time because you’re finally seeing what it’s like to have a top 20 prospect, and that’s what Jarred Kelenic is.”

Kelenic came up during Passan’s bi-weekly visit because Brock and Salk is that he’s been playing up to that top 20 prospect rating to the point that after just 49 games with Class-A West Virginia, the Mariners promoted Kelenic to the High-A Modesto Nuts on Tuesday.

In his time with West Virginia, Kelenic hit .303 with a .391 on-base percentage, .564 slugging percentage, .955 OPS, 10 home runs, 13 doubles, three triples, 26 RBIs, 31 runs scored and seven stolen bases. And while those might seem like a random collection of stats, they’re not – Kelenic leaves the Power as the team leader in literally every one of those categories.

The prize of the Mariners’ return in their blockbuster offseason trade with the Mets, Kelenic was the No. 6 overall pick in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school, and the only reason Seattle didn’t get him last June is that the Mets had the chance to take him first. Mariners manager Scott Servais has noted numerous times how Kelenic had the most impressive workout he’s ever seen from am amateur player when he came to T-Mobile Park prior to the draft, and Servais told Brock and Salk on Wednesday that Kelenic’s progress is in line with his potential.

“Jarred’s a very impressive young guy,” Servais said. “… It doesn’t surprise me to see what he’s doing. Got to see him a little bit in spring training, how serious this guy is about his game. He doesn’t just want to be good, he wants to be great.”

Passan added that while the Mariners have had bad experiences over the past decade with prospects who might have been promoted too quickly – see Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Mike Zunino – he doesn’t think the Mariners are rushing Kelenic.

“I’m of the mind that you can’t move prospects too quickly if they’re ready,” Passan said. “And look, what more did Jarred Kelenic have to prove at Low-A? There’s never mastery in baseball, but he pretty clearly had adjusted to the level to the point where there was not a whole lot more that he was going to do performance-wise there.

“… I don’t see any reason to keep a guy down there because of his age, because of his inexperience. Give him a challenge. Elite athletes, the best of the best, want challenges. High-A at 19 years old is going to be a challenge for him. I think it’s one that he’s ready for, though, and honestly I think if there’s a little failure that’s involved here, that’s not the worst thing in the world either for him.”

You can listen to Passan’s full segment with Brock and Salk in this podcast, or the interview with Servais here.

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