Mariners ‘went as far as they could’ with Jarred Kelenic before demotion
The highly anticipated start to Jarred Kelenic’s MLB career didn’t go like the outfielder or the Mariners planned, and after 23 games in the majors, he’s been demoted to Triple-A Tacoma.
In those 23 games, Kelenic put together a slash line of just .096/.185/.193 with two home runs. He tallied eight hits, with three of them coming in his second MLB game. Kelenic also had 26 strikeouts in 92 plate appearances and had no hits in his last 39 at-bats prior to his demotion.
While Kelenic’s talent is unquestionable, it was apparent that he was having issues handling MLB pitching over the last few weeks. Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle, discussed Kelenic’s struggles and demotion with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob shortly after the news broke Monday.
“I think they gave him every opportunity,” she said. “And we know this organization is obviously not all about the batting average and all of the raw numbers. It’s about how they look at the plate, the contact that they make, and they very much recognize that batting average is reliant on luck, so that’s not reflective necessarily of where a player (is).”
But even when taking batting average out of the picture, it was clear that Kelenic was struggling at the plate, especially in some of the Mariners’ most recent series. That wasn’t always the case, though.
“I do think early on Kelenic was having good plate appearances, making good contact and making good swing decisions, as well,” Drayer said. “But I think we saw as time went on and as the games started stacking up as he was going hitless, I think you did start to see the plate appearances where he did look a little lost, and you did see plate appearances where he was not making adjustments to big league pitching, which he is seeing for the first time.”
The issue, Drayer said, wasn’t about the “stuff” that MLB pitchers were hurling at Kelenic, but rather how they were pitching to him. Kelenic at one point mentioned to the media that pitchers were really working the edges of the plate against him.
“That’s how pitchers pitch in the big leagues,” Drayer said. “They don’t throw it down the middle. You don’t get as many mistakes (to hit). And I think he was having a hard time adjusting to that in particular.”
As far as if the Mariners waited too long to demote him or if they should have had a longer leash, Drayer seems to think the timing made sense.
“I think they took it as far as they could with him,” she said. “I think you probably also got a little bit concerned. He’s intense and they like that, but you saw how hard he took every strikeout. And I think there comes a point where you look at it and you say, ‘This isn’t getting any better, it’s not helping the situation, you need to take a break.’ And now he’s gotten the opportunity, he’s seen it, there’s nowhere else where he was going to get that experience, and now he has a chance to go and take what he has learned and get to work on it. And I have little doubt he’ll be ready the next time he gets called up.”
Something that is abundantly clear with Kelenic is that the young man does not lack confidence. One instance of that is that he told USA Today earlier this year that he felt he should have been on the MLB roster last year to help the Mariners push for a playoff spot. Bob Stelton, co-host of Wyman and Bob, said he saw fans who felt Kelenic was too cocky or overconfident in his abilities and thought Kelenic needed to be humbled. Drayer doesn’t think that was necessary.
“Did he need to be humbled? I don’t think so,” she said. “I think he needed to see what he saw right now to realize that he didn’t have all the answers for what was going on at the big league level. But that’s not a huge sin right there; it is very different up here.”
As for that level of confidence that Kelenic carries, Drayer thinks the Mariners still want him to be wired that way.
“I don’t think you want him losing that confidence. I don’t think you want him really losing that bravado, either,” she said. “There will be a time and a place for it and I think he just got a little bit of a lesson that, no, you don’t know everything about what it looks like up here.”
Listen to the full interview with Drayer, which includes her thoughts on Logan Gilbert and injury updates for Evan White and Dylan Moore, at this link or in the player below.