Dipoto: Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic doing the right things, ‘results will catch up’
The excitement and hype surrounding top Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic and the start of his MLB career has died down and turned into something that fans didn’t want or expect: worry.
In 19 games this year at the MLB level, Kelenic is struggling at the plate to the tune of a .111/.200/.222 slash line. The young outfielder has -0.6 wins above replacement (WAR), and over Seattle’s most recent homestand he struck out 11 times in six games. Kelenic, who was out of the lineup Wednesday, is also in the midst of an 0 for 28 slump.
During his weekly visit with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto discussed what he’s seeing from his struggling young outfielder in recent games.
Dipoto said that “anything is possible as is necessary” when asked if a potential demotion to Triple-A Tacoma is in play for Kelenic, but based on the rest of the conversation, it appears Dipoto and the organization believe Kelenic will get things right at the MLB level soon.
“He’s not going to bat .120 for the year. He’s much better than that on a skill level,” Dipoto said.
Kelenic hasn’t been hitting much at all since making his MLB debut in early May, but Dipoto said he feels that his at-bats for the most part had been good and competitive until the Mariners’ most recent series loss against the Oakland Athletics.
“It’s unfortunate because I think prior to this homestand, especially the series with the A’s, Jarred’s at-bats were really good and he’s hitting the ball hard and he’s doing the right things,” Dipoto said. “And if you would have told me that 2 1/2 weeks into his major league career that he was going to have a 9% walk rate and a 25% strikeout rate, I would have said, ‘Sign me up, things are going to go really well.'”
Dipoto is still impressed overall with how Kelenic is handling his at-bats as well as his approach against big league pitchers.
“For a rookie in this league with his age and his experience, he is doing the right things and it’s just not resulting in hits,” Dipoto said. “It’s the first time that he’s gone through this in his life and again, it’s not a particularly long period … and it’s not going to define who he is. But the underlying information suggests good things. He’s drawing about an average walk rate, he’s striking out a little more than the average player in his first 80 plate appearances, and that would almost be defined as ideal in the process you want to see and I think the results will catch up.”
Despite Kelenic’s rough go at the plate in recent weeks, Dipoto was impressed with Kelenic’s performance in the first game of Seattle’s series against Oakland.
“For him to go out and go through a stretch like this where he’s in a dry spell north of 20 plate appearances, I was proud of him in the first game of the Oakland series for going up there and taking his (two) walks,” Dipoto said. “I think that’s the key. That’s how you get out of these things is you see pitches.”
Dipoto thinks that Kelenic continuing to see more and more pitches and track the ball out of the pitcher’s hand will help him get back on track.
“I think that’s generally how you get out of it,” he said. “If you look at the best hitters in the world, when they get in their slumps, that’s what they do is they see more pitches until they feel more comfortable, and once they feel comfortable with their approach the hits start to come again.”
While Kelenic is in a cold streak, Dipoto doesn’t believe Kelenic will be a hitter prone to hot and cold streaks during the course of his MLB career.
“He’s a very consistent hitter with a good approach,” Dipoto said. “He’s just right now a young player who’s trying to figure out how to slow it down a little bit and my guess is he will sooner than later.”