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Mariners OF Jarred Kelenic
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Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto: Jarred Kelenic returning to MLB Friday vs Angels

Top Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic will be back in the majors on Friday. (Getty)

The Mariners are just a day away from kicking off the second half of the 2021 season at five games over .500, and they’ll be getting a big boost with the return of prized outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic.

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Kelenic, 21, made his MLB debut in early May, but struggled outside of a fun three-hit performance in his second MLB game. In 23 games with the Mariners, Kelenic had a .096/.185/.193 slash line and didn’t record a hit in his final 10 games prior to his demotion.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Thursday morning that Kelenic will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma for Friday’s second-half road opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

After his MLB struggles, Kelenic went down to Tacoma and has put up very nice results, and Dipoto and the organization are very confident in Kelenic’s ability going forward.

“We’ve always believed in his talent. Obviously (his first run in MLB) didn’t go the way we hoped or he would have hoped,” Dipoto said on The Jerry Dipoto Show. “We sent him back, he had a plan to work on. Some of it was how to approach the game and some of it was more skills development-based, and he did everything we asked him to do.”

In 30 games for Tacoma this year (he played six in Triple-A prior to his initial MLB call-up), Kelenic boasts a .320/.392/.624 slash line with nine home runs, 28 RBIs and six stolen bases.

“The performance was excellent,” Dipoto said. “He achieved what we were hoping he would achieve in the short time, and we told him we would reassess at the All-Star break and see where we were. We think it’s the right time to give it another shot. He’s just too talented to allow him to not gain this exposure and these at-bats at the big league level. It’s so important to what we’re doing going forward, and it’s so important for him to take that next step in his career.”

So where exactly does Kelenic fit in with this Mariners team, which is just 3.5 games out from the second American League Wild Card spot?

“He will (be in the lineup on Friday) and he will play center field more nights than not,” Dipoto said. “He will, like he’s done in the minors, move from side to side (in the outfield).”

Dipoto noted that Kelenic and Jake Fraley are able to handle all three outfield spots, which will be important going forward in order to give right fielder Mitch Haniger some time at designated hitter, and also to keep giving Shed Long Jr. and Dylan Moore playing time. Kelenic in center, Fraley in left and Haniger in right appears to be the Mariners’ go-to starting outfield trio for the foreseeable future.

“We want Jarred to get his reps like we want Jake and Mitch to get their reps, and we’ve got to keep finding ways to get Shed and Dylan Moore their (at-bats),” he said. “We’re going to be very creative in how we manage the roster coming out of the break.”

Part of that creativity involves the catchers, as top catching prospect Cal Raleigh was promoted from Tacoma to make his MLB debut Sunday in the final game of the first half and the Mariners still have Luis Torrens and Tom Murphy on the roster.

Getting Raleigh and Kelenic consistent at-bats is very critical for the Mariners, Dipoto said.

“As fun as it is to be in a position right now to dream of the second half and hitting the postseason, we also want to focus on the discipline of giving these young players their reps, because that’s just so important to what happens moving forward for us,” he said.

Listen to this week’s Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.

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