Salk: Mariners CF Jarred Kelenic’s September is what it looks like ‘when he truly arrives’

Sep 20, 2021, 12:24 PM | Updated: 12:24 pm

Mariners Jarred Kelenic...

Mariners CF Jarred Kelenic hits a two-run double during the first inning against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

There’s no question who the star of the Mariners’ weekend series win over the Royals was. And it’s a name M’s fans have been waiting for all season to break out.

Sunday: Red-hot Jarred Kelenic leads Mariners past KC 7-1

Rookie center fielder Jarred Kelenic torched Kansas City pitching at Kauffman Stadium, hitting 5 for 8 (.625) with three home runs, two doubles, three walks, a stolen base, three RBIs and four runs scored over the three games.

“Just a monster weekend for Jarred Kelenic,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk said on his show Monday morning. “Remember what Salvador Perez did to the Mariners a couple weeks ago? It’s what Jarred Kelenic did to the Royals this weekend.”

It’s an appropriate comparison. Perez, who has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters over the second half and has already set a new MLB record from most homers in a season by a player whose primary position is catcher (45), went 7 for 17 with four homers and 12 RBIs in a four-game series in Seattle from Aug. 26-29. The fact that Kelenic put together a comparable series in Kansas City, starting with his first career two-homer game Friday, is something worth highlighting.

“He really was tremendous. In fact, throughout September he’s been a completely different player,” Salk said.

To back that last point up, Salk pointed to this tweet from Joe Doyle of Prospects Live:

Kelenic’s rookie season has certainly had its fair share of struggles, with an 0-for-39 slump resulting in him being sent back to Triple-A in June just 23 games into his MLB career. But the important thing is that he’s showing improvement and well on his way to ending the regular season on a positive note.

Drayer: Kelenic comfortable for first time in big leagues

On Aug. 22, Kelenic’s slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) for the season was .141/.236/.261. Entering Monday, it’s up to .178/.258/.349. Hitting six of his 13 home runs in the last 15 games certainly helps that slugging number.

“That’s a huge gain,” Salk said. “That is the star player that you’ve wanted. That’s what it looks like. That’s what Jarred Kelenic looks like when he truly arrives.”

Justin Barnes of 710 ESPN Seattle pointed to the fact that Kelenic worked his way through struggles against MLB pitching instead of going back down to Triple-A in July or August.

“I don’t think we get there without all those valuable at-bats before this,” Barnes said. “(He’s been facing) major league pitching. This isn’t Triple-A; this is the real deal.”

Added Salk: “And he’s still 22.”

You can hear the full conversation on Kelenic, including an audio montage of some his September highlights, in the middle segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Salk: Mariners CF Jarred Kelenic’s September is what it looks like ‘when he truly arrives’