Mariners rookies Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert describe their MLB debuts
When the Mariners faced the Cleveland Indians on Thursday in the series opener, all eyes were on the two rookies making their MLB debuts – Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert.
The Mariners have a loaded farm system and Kelenic and Gilbert are two of the headliners, ranking first and fourth in the team’s prospect rankings, respectively, on MLB Pipeline.
Kelenic, a left-handed hitting outfielder, hit leadoff and played left field for the Mariners in his debut and went 0-4 with a strikeout and a hard lineout in his last at-bat.
Gilbert, a tall right-handed pitcher, allowed four runs in four innings and recorded five strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter.
Ahead of Friday’s game against Cleveland, both Kelenic and Gilbert joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob and discussed their MLB debuts. Here’s what they had to say.
Kelenic described his MLB debut as “a whirlwind to say the least,” and a big day for him, his family and friends and also Gilbert.
“I was super blessed that it happened,” he said. “I just talked to Logan before I got on here (for the interview) and I just said, ‘Now we go.’ We got the jitters out and now we’re ready to help this team win as best we can … This is what I’ve wanted to do for my whole life and now that I’m here I’m ready to help contribute.”
In his first-at bat, Kelenic swung at the first pitch he saw and hit a fly ball to right field that was heading for the stands, but Josh Naylor made a nice play in foul territory to record the out. Even though that wasn’t the result he wanted, it was nice to get out there and get that first appearance out of the way.
“Even though it was quick, it was a good way to get the jitters out and after that I remember I was pretty relaxed,” he said.
Something important for Kelenic and Gilbert was affirmation from their Mariners teammates and coaches but also their Cleveland opponents.
“I know Logan and I had guys come up here and say we belong here and they’re excited to watch us play and I know for Logan and I it’s pretty reassuring to hear that,” he said.
And even though the ultra-confident Kelenic feels like he belongs with the Mariners in the big leagues, he did admit it’s still surreal that he’s playing in MLB games.
“When I’m out here playing against (Cleveland All-Star third baseman) Jose Ramirez, part of me is like ‘Oh my God, it’s Jose Ramirez,’ but he’s just an opponent now,” Kelenic said. “So it’s definitely a different phase, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”
Despite not recording a single hit in his debut, Kelenic came away with a lot of knowledge and is ready to implement that during games.
“I think every at-bat I learned something new,” he said. “That’s why I was so excited to get to the ballpark today because I can take that information that I gathered last night and bring it into tonight.”
Clearly Kelenic learned a lot as in his second MLB game, he went 3-4 with a home run, two hustle doubles and three RBIs. His first MLB hit was a home run to right-center field that came off an Aaron Civale splitter. Civale struck out Kelenic in his first at-bat on the splitter, but Kelenic got the better of Civale and that pitch in his second appearance.
Listen to the interview with Kelenic at this link or in the player below.
Gilbert also used the word “whirlwind” to describe his MLB debut, and while he’s thankful to have made it to the big leagues and have his family in the stands, he is ready to get into the day-to-day life of an MLB starting pitcher.
“It’s going to be nice now to just settle in and get back to my routine like normal,” he said.
When asked if his debut was everything he expected, Gilbert said “it was that and so much more.”
“I don’t know if you really know what to expect when you get out there. It all just hits you at once,” he said. “From the warmups to the bullpen and then sitting down in the dugout, it was like ‘This thing is about to happen, it’s real.’ And I go out there and hear the fans and throw the first pitch and all that stuff and all the emotions hit you at once. It was really special.”
Kelenic brought up Gilbert multiple times in his interview and made it clear that he was happy that the duo shared their MLB debuts together. Gilbert feels the same way, and said having Kelenic on the roster on Thursday meant a lot to him.
“Jarred’s one of my really good friends. Just coming up through the minors with him at pretty much every level together, so it was nice to have that familiar face,” Gilbert said. “We did have each other in the dugout and we just kind of looked at each other before this thing happened and were like ‘It’s the same game. Let’s go out there and do our thing.’ It’s going to be fun to watch him for years to come. He’s a really special player.”
Gilbert did allow four runs, with three runs coming off two home runs. Gilbert said that it’s evident now more than ever the big gap between Triple-A hitters and MLB lineups.
“I saw last night, when you make mistakes over the plate, they make you pay,” Gilbert said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, where coming up through the minors if you have good stuff a lot of the time you can make mistakes and you don’t really think twice about it.”
Some were surprised that Gilbert’s debut came after making only one start in Triple-A Tacoma, but he wasn’t too surprised about the timing of his callup.
“I did feel like (my debut) was going to be early in the year and I was ready,” he said. “(That was) based on some of the conversations that I had and especially with (the Mariners) already being a month into the season. I think (the timing) was a little bit about what they (have) said about saving the innings.”
While he likely would have preferred to have made his MLB debut sooner, Gilbert is happy with the timing of his callup and is excited about his future going forward.
“For me to make at least one start in Triple-A was good and it felt like I was ready to go and I got the call, so here I am,” he said. “I’m ready.”
Gilbert is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Listen to the interview with Gilbert at this link or in the player below.