Can Jarred Kelenic become the young star the Mariners have been missing?
Among the things that stood out to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk while watching Monday’s MLB Home Run Derby, these two were the most important:
• Baseball has a lot of young superstars.
• None of them play for the Seattle Mariners.
Seven of the eight players who competed in the Home Run Derby are 27 years old or younger, with Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. and Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. both yet to have reached their 21st birthday. The Mariners, meanwhile, haven’t had a can’t-miss prospect turn into a superstar since Félix Hernández, who debuted at 19 in 2005.
Do the Mariners have anybody who could break that long spell? Maybe – Jarred Kelenic, a 19-year-old outfielder and the team’s No. 1 prospect who is currently at High-A Modesto.
ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan said during his bi-weekly segment on Brock and Salk that Kelenic has the makeup to be a player in the same class as the Home Run Derby participants, though it may be a couple years before he’s in the batter’s box for the Mariners.
“Tools are off the charts,” Passan said. “I mean he’s got a chance to be really, really good – like a 5 or 6 (WAR), All-Star-caliber player. I don’t want to (say) anything beyond that because he’s still a baby and it’s a long way off, but if you’re asking if he can be a star-type player, unquestionably.”
Due to baseball’s service-time rules and the fact that the Mariners are unlikely to be in the playoff mix next season, Passan doesn’t expect Kelenic to play in Seattle until probably 2021.
“I don’t quite understand why Kelenic would be up (on the Mariners roster) next year. I just don’t see the value in that,” he said. “You want to keep him around for as many years as you possibly can when you’re going to be good. You don’t want to start his service clock. The Mariners typically have not had to deal with this problem because they’ve never had any prospects who are worthy of having their service time manipulated.”
Kelenic was in Cleveland for the MLB All-Star festivities himself, playing the entire Futures Game as the American League’s left fielder, going 0 for 3 at the plate – all fly outs to the left side of the field.
To hear Passan’s full segment with Salk and guest co-host Danny O’Neil, click here.