Drayer: Timing of Jarred Kelenic’s MLB debut fits well for both him and Mariners
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto hinted at the move last Thursday on his weekly show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
“We are getting closer and closer,” he said when asked about the timeline for Jarred Kelenic to be called up. “I will say it is some part because we feel he’s making progress, in some part it’s time to take a look at him and that’s coming sooner than later. Also some part in that it might add a spark to our offense if we give him that opportunity. We have not fixed a date but we are getting to the point in that 30- to 40-game window that I have discussed that we are going to make decisions with our roster and among them is what we do moving forward with Jarred Kelenic.”
The roster evaluation part? Easy.
The Mariners are at the 35-game mark. Players have had enough at bats to show if not what they are but what path they are currently on. There has been some swimming, there has been some sinking and with young players in particular, you don’t want to let them flounder.
It could be one move this week, it could be a series of moves this week but one move in particular looks immanent as a baseball source confirms Jeff Passan’s report that Jarred Kelenic will indeed join the Mariners big league club later this week.
The move comes as the Mariners are tied for the worst batting average in MLB, hitting .210 as a team and ranking 22nd in wRC+. Kelenic will arrive coming in off of a hot start to his brief Triple A start, slashing .409/.458/.682 in four games.
The start follows a month spent in Arizona playing in minor league spring games and pickup games of sorts between clubs before the minor league spring schedule began. While he doesn’t have many regular season games under his belt, he did accumulate a good number of at bats in Arizona after the big leaguers broke camp and that was part of the plan that was laid out before him when he was told he would not make the big league club out of spring training.
“We feel like there are a couple of things left to finish off but there are options,” Dipoto told Danny and Gallant March 25. “He is starting here in Arizona and gaining more at-bats, starting at a minor league affiliate when that starts or in a Major League opportunity when that arrives. Anything is in play when it comes to Jarred.”
When asked hours after being given the news if it was crystal clear what he needed to get do to show he was ready, Kelenic answered: “A lot of it is just reps. They are going to get me as many at-bats (in Arizona) as they can. I think we are on the same page as me getting as many at-bats as possible.”
Those at bats were necessary in part because he had missed time in spring training with a strained adductor muscle. One thing was certain however – he would not be down for long.
While his timeline going into 2020 before the pandemic hit had him projected to debut in the second half of the season, the Jarred Kelenic who had reported to 2021 spring training had clearly taken steps forward. The at-bats were better, and unlike the previous spring his numbers did not fall off as the spring progressed. He had the appearance of a near-finished product and had he been able to play start to finish, it might have been impossible to deny him a spot on the 26-man roster.
If the timing seems odd in terms of development, it appears to fit with the plan Kelenic was given in spring training. If he has checked all of the boxes, then it is go time. If it was about reps as he said, the stay in Tacoma was going to be short regardless. He got his reps, he recouped the days missed due to injury, and now he’s had the opportunity to crank it up under the lights. He’s had a full build up and by all appearances is coming in hot.
It’s a solid setup and he will need it as it is likely at some point he will have to endure a good number of the ups and downs nearly all young players do and he’ll do so under the spotlight of being one of the top prospects in the game. The challenge ahead is one he is prepared for.
“I’m excited to learn because this is going to be a big year for me,” Kelenic said in March. “I’m going to make some mistakes and I am going to learn from it. Even when I get to the big leagues, I’m not done working. There’s things that I want to do to help this team win and grow as an individual so getting to the big leagues is definitely a huge goal of mine but the end goal is much more than that.”