Drayer: Why Mariners promoted top prospect Jarred Kelenic to Double-A
The No. 1 prospect in the Mariners farm system is on the move again.
Jarred Kelenic, the 20-year-old outfielder who started the season – his first full season in professional ball – at Low-A West Virginia, was promoted earlier this season to High-A Modesto after hitting .309/.394/.586 for a .981 OPS in 218 plate appearances, is now headed for Double-A Arkansas.
“Frankly we wouldn’t have done it if not for how well he had played of late,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said of Kelenic. “It’s fairly convincing that he’s adjusted to that level. Since July 1 (.343/.412/.552 with Modesto), obviously you can have a great month or two, but this is effectively what he had done all season. Outside of the time he missed with the wrist injury and the time thereafter coming back and trying to get through the irritation he was feeling, he has been as consistent as you can be from Day 1, and that goes for spring training.”
Discussions about the promotion began about two weeks ago. With the playoff-bound Arkansas team putting up the second-best record at the Double-A level across baseball, the Mariners believe the move will be beneficial for both the player involved and the teammates he will be joining.
“We thought this was the right thing for his development, we thought it was the right thing for the group in Arkansas,” Dipoto said. “The ability to extend their season and pull up so many fun young prospects to play together and just chase the championship, we thought there was some benefit to that.”
Dipoto pointed out that Kelenic was going to be moved to Double-A by the end of the season one way or another. The Mariners’ trade of Triple-A outfielder Ian Miller to the Twins for cash considerations Friday night helped open some spots in front of him.
Kelenic was pulled from his game with Modesto Friday night after his first plate appearance. He was moving up once again. Getting to Double-A sooner will give him time to adjust before the playoffs.
“The timing was somewhat because we were able to move Ian and give him a chance to play with the Twins and somewhat because I believe Kelenic has hit .500 for the last week or so with a 1.200 OPS,” said Dipoto. “It takes a couple of weeks to get over the hump. You get there, the players are a little older, they are a little more advanced. The breaking balls are a little more frequent, it takes some adjustment. So far Jarred has shown to be quick at making those adjustments. It won’t be the first time we challenge him, my expectation is he will figure it out quickly. That’s been our experience so far.”
The addition of Kelenic gives the Travelers 17 of the Mariners top 30 prospects. The opportunity to not only get that group to the playoffs but to see them in a playoff environment and get that experience is viewed as a huge positive in the Mariners organization. To have their prized prospect a part of that, a remarkable bonus.
“He’s doing all the things that good young players do,” said Dipoto. “He’s doing them at an exceptional rate at a very young age. We couldn’t be more excited for his progress and very excited to see that young team play together.”
Note: A previous version of this story stated the incorrect age of Kelenic, who turned 20 last month.