With Jarred Kelenic, the Mariners are looking for things besides performance in Triple-A
Prized Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic has now been back in Triple-A for two weeks, rejoining the Tacoma Rainiers following a 23-game stint in the big leagues.
Kelenic’s first foray with the Mariners didn’t go great, as a 10-game hitless streak resulted in his average dipping below .100 before the team decided to option him to Tacoma. But while his struggles briefly continued as he went without a hit in his first two games back with the Rainiers, he has now recorded a hit in seven of his last nine games.
So what are the Mariners looking for out of the 21-year-old Kelenic now that he’s back in the minors? Andy McKay, Mariners director of player development, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob on Monday and shared the organization’s view.
“He went up, he had some success, ran into a tough stretch,” McKay said of Kelenic’s MLB stint. “I’m really not looking for performance in Jarred Kelenic in Triple-A because of all of the things that I’m concerned about, Jarred being a good major league player’s not one of them.”
What McKay said is important to the Mariners is how Kelenic responds to moments of failure, which wasn’t something he had to deal with much on his way to the major leagues – he has a career .288 average, .361 on-base percentage and .877 OPS in 836 minor league at-bats entering Tuesday.
“He is a good player, he’s going to be good in the major leagues,” McKay continued. “What I’m looking for when he’s down here is really just how he handles adversity. How he handles bad at-bats. How quickly he can get from one at-bat to the next at-bat. How quickly he can go from one bad swing and get back to his approach for the next swing. How quickly he can go from game to game and not letting it pile up on him. And so far he’s been able to do that down here (with Tacoma).”
The Mariners may be seeing first-hand right now how a trip back down to Triple-A can benefit a player. That would be with 25-year-old catcher Luis Torrens, who struggled both offensively and defensively in May, was sent down to the Rainiers for 19 games, and came back up to Seattle just as the M’s were about to catch fire at the start of their current homestand.
“He just needed a break. He needed to get out of the pressure, the environment, the nightly stress of Major League Baseball,” McKay said. “He went down, the performance (with the Rainiers) was not great, but the confidence began to come back and really, the stress began to leave a little bit.”
A spot for Torrens opened up on the Mariners’ roster last week, and so far, so good. After hitting a homer in Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Rays, he is 7 for 16 (.438) with three homers, a double, a walk and a 1.533 OPS in five games (four starts) since being recalled.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 20, 2021
“Obviously he goes back up and he’s got an opportunity, and he’s taken full advantage of it,” McKay said. “I think this points to a larger conversation here, which is how mental this game is. Just the change of scenery, the change of environment, getting a couple good pitches to hit and finding the barrel, and all of the sudden you’re on your way again.”
You can listen to McKay’s full interview with Bob Stelton and guest host Dave Grosby in the podcast at this link or in the player below.
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