Baseball America’s Glaser on differing career arcs of Mariners’ Kelenic, Rodríguez

Jan 18, 2023, 12:22 PM | Updated: 12:27 pm

Mariners Jarred Kelenic Julio Rodriguez...

Julio Rodriguez scores a run for the Mariners against the Tigers on Oct. 3, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

This time two years ago, it looked like the Mariners had the makings of an outfield that could be the envy of Major League Baseball.

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Both Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez were consensus top five prospects in the game, and as they were fast approaching their big league debuts, expectations were sky high for the duo.

Since then, things couldn’t have gone differently for Kelenic and Rodríguez.

Kelenic debuted in 2021, and over 147 games in five different MLB stints with Seattle, he has produced just a .168/.251/.338 slash line while striking out roughly 30% of the time.

Rodríguez, meanwhile, was named an All-Star and won American League Rookie of the Year in 2022. He also signed a long-term deal with the Mariners that could be worth up to $470 million.

Someone who has followed the professional careers of both Kelenic and Rodríguez very closely is Kyle Glaser of Baseball America, who joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Bump and Stacy on Tuesday. In addition to talking about the Mariners’ current farm system, Glaser discussed Kelenic’s career and Rodríguez’s emergence.

Let’s start with Kelenic.

“On one hand, he’s only 23, and there’s a long, long, long track record of guys who don’t figure it out until 24, 25, 26, even 27. So you don’t want to completely jump ship,” Glaser said.

That being said, expectations for Kelenic across baseball have taken a nosedive, Glaser said.

“In terms of the way his offensive game has developed and his swing has developed, I think people for the most part now see the hope is that he can hit enough to be more of a bottom of the order-type of guy, and that’s going to be something where he’s going to have some adjustments to make to get there,” he said.

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Kelenic’s defense has improved a lot, which could give him a “longer leash” since he’s now a solid center fielder and plus corner outfielder.

“But right now, the general outlook is you’re hoping he can get to that bottom of the order-type of everyday player. Just the way his game has evolved, no one really sees the impactful, top to middle of the order type of hitter they once did,” he said.

As for Rodríguez, did Glaser think the now 22 year old would be as special as he’s been?

“Yeah, I did,” he said.

Glaser and his Baseball America colleagues have graded Rodríguez very highly, all the way back to 2019 when he was in High-A ball as a young Mariners prospect.

“The types of things we were hearing from scouts and opposing managers were otherworldly. And then seeing him for myself when he was in the minors, it was clear this was a guy who was a franchise-caliber talent,” Glaser said. “… The fact that he is this level of talent is not a surprise. Now, the fact that he beat Mike Trout’s record to 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season, yeah, I mean, you can never predict that. That’s certainly above and beyond anything you predict. But the fact that he’s this type of player, no, we’ve had him as such at Baseball America since he was in A-ball.”

Rodríguez’s skillset was such that “you didn’t have to be a scout” to realize how special he was in the minors, Glaser said.

“This is just a guy whose talent is so otherworldly, it jumps out at you. And it’s an easy call that you know this is what superstars look like. It was like that with Ronald Acuña Jr., it was like that when I saw George Springer when he was at (Single-A) Lancaster – these guys who are gonna be perennial All-Stars and face of the franchise-type of guys who potentially lead you to the World Series. And that was the type of player Julio was and it was very clear when he was even in Modesto in A-ball that he had a chance to do that as long as he continued on the path he was on, and he did that.”

Listen to the full conversation with Glaser in the podcast below.

More from Glaser: A close look at top prospects in Mariners farm system

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