Report: Mariners to call up top prospect Jarred Kelenic for Cleveland series
Looks like top Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic’s stop in Triple-A Tacoma won’t be for long.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Mariners are expected to call Kelenic up to the big leagues Thursday, which would be the first game of the team’s next homestand. That homestand begins with a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians before a three-game set with the Detroit Tigers.
OF Jarred Kelenic, the No. 3 prospect in baseball, is expected to be called up by the Mariners on Thursday, sources familiar with the situation tell ESPN.
While things can obviously change, the plan is to promote Kelenic for the first game of Seattle's home series vs. Cleveland.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 11, 2021
Kelenic, 21, is a left-handed hitting outfielder who ranks third on ESPN’s list of top prospects. He is the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and is the Mariners’ top prospect according to both websites.
The New York Mets selected Kelenic with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft after his standout high school and travel circuit career. After that season, Kelenic came to the Mariners from New York as the centerpiece of a major deal that sent All-Stars Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz as well as cash to the Mets for Kelenic, fellow prospect Justin Dunn and three veteran players. Since then, Kelenic has only improved and risen up prospect lists.
Passan’s report comes less than a week after Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that the Mariners planned to promote Kelenic by the end of May. Shortly after that report came out, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant last Thursday that Kelenic would likely be making his MLB debut soon, but that the organization did not have any date set.
“We’re going to tap into Jarred and give him an opportunity (in Triple-A), but we are getting closer and closer,” Dipoto said.
Apparently, “closer and closer” meant one week.
After tearing up Single-A, High-A and Double-A in 2019 to the tune of a .291/.364/.580 slash line with 23 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 117 games, Kelenic was relegated to the Mariners’ alternate training site in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as there was no Minor League Baseball season.
Kelenic found himself in many headlines this offseason after former Mariners team president Kevin Mather told a local rotary club that Kelenic had been offered a long-term deal last year that he turned down, and as a result he would start 2021 in the minors. That led some to believe the Mariners were manipulating Kelenic’s service time in order to gain an extra year of club control, which the team has denied. Mather resigned as team president shortly after video and audio of his appearance with the rotary club became public.
Both Kelenic and Dipoto confirmed that Kelenic had been offered a deal. Kelenic told USA Today that he was told last year at the alternate training site multiple times that had he accepted the deal, he would have made his debut in 2020. Dipoto told 710 ESPN that Kelenic’s contract offer came with a “clear understanding” that he’d have a minor league assignment.
As far as 2021 goes, Kelenic did compete for a spot on Seattle’s 26-man roster this spring training as the starting left field job was wide open. He played well, but ultimately he started the 2021 season in the minors. Kelenic suffered a minor knee injury while running to first base early in the spring, and that cost him time and ultimately the Mariners gave the final outfield spot to Taylor Trammell, who has played in both center and left field for Seattle so far this season.
Dipoto and the organization have made it known time and time again that they were not going to call Kelenic up unless they felt he was fully ready to be an MLB regular. If his early numbers with the Rainiers in 2021 are any indication, it looks like he’s ready for MLB pitching.
Entering Monday, Kelenic was slashing .444/.500/.778 with two home runs, five RBIs, two walks and two stolen bases in four Triple-A games. He hit both his home runs on Tacoma’s opening day, which you can see in the story below.
While Kelenic has been hitting in Triple-A, the Mariners have been struggling at the MLB level at the plate.
The Mariners have been one of the worst hitting teams in MLB, ranking at or near the bottom of most major offensive categories. In his interview with 710 ESPN Seattle last week, Dipoto admitted that Kelenic could give the team’s lineup a much-needed boost.
“It’s also in some part that it might add a spark to our offense if we give him that opportunity,” Dipoto said of a Kelenic’s eventual debut last week.