Passan: With big week, Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic displays his star potential

Apr 18, 2023, 1:46 PM

Seattle Mariners Jarred Kelenic...

Jarred Kelenic of the Mariners watches his home run against the Rockies on April 14, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Over the last 11 games, Jarred Kelenic has played like a completely different player than the one who wore No. 10 for the Seattle Mariners the previous two seasons.

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Kelenic ripped off a career-high 10-game hitting streak (it snapped Monday), catching fire along the way with a string of four straight games with a home run. Those homers weren’t cheap, either.

First, he hit a majestic shot off the scoreboard in right at Wrigley Field. Then he went the other way for a blast that traveled over 400 feet. And then he went 482 feet to center for the second-longest homer at Wrigley in the Statcast era.

And if you thought this was just a fluke in Chicago, immediately upon the Mariners’ return to T-Mobile Park last Friday, he silenced those that doubt he can hit left-handers right now by homering to center off Rockies southpaw Austin Gomber.

The 23-year-old Kelenic hasn’t just been hitting dingers, though. He’s played some stellar defense in the outfield, stolen some bases, and even come up with clutch base knocks. As a result, he enters Tuesday with a .333/.393/.667 slash line for a 1.060 OPS with eight RBIs and three stolen bases, and he’s already accumulated 0.9 WAR, per Baseball Reference. He also ranks in the top 10 in baseball right now in both slugging percentage (seventh) and OPS (10th).

What is the ceiling for Jarred Kelenic?

While the 15 games that Kelenic has played this season make for a small sample size, what he’s done so far is nonetheless impressive. What does a baseball insider see when looking at Kelenic’s 2023 to date?

ESPN’s Jeff Passan was asked that when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk for his weekly Tuesday conversation, and he has stars in his eyes when it comes to the former top prospect who the Mariners pried from the New York Mets in a 2018 blockbuster trade.

“I look at Jarred Kelenic and I see a star,” Passan said. “I see a star because of the way he carries himself. I see a star because of the way that he’s put together. I see a star because you can count on your hands and feet the number of people in all of baseball who can hit the ball 482 feet.  I see a star for all the reasons that when the Mets dealt him, they were concerned and they were nervous. It’s because you don’t deal guys with the upside that he has. And I think for a week there, and really for most of the season so far, we saw it.”

What does that say about the potential that Kelenic has as a big leaguer?

“So what could Jarred Kelenic be? I mean, the dude who was in Chicago is an All-Star,” Passan said. “He is somebody who’s getting MVP votes. He is not batting sixth but batting second behind Julio (Rodríguez) – right? I feel like if we’re if we’re idealizing this (Mariners) lineup here, doesn’t it go Julio, Kelenic, Ty France, Cal Raleigh, (and) Teoscar Hernández or Geno Suárez?”

Passan joins Brock and Salk at 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday. Listen to his latest visit with the show in the podcast below.

More on the Seattle Mariners

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• Goldsmith: Two veteran bats critical to Seattle Mariners’ success
• Mariners’ Dipoto: Improved secondaries created ‘new ceiling’ for Logan Gilbert
• Dipoto ‘not too worried’ about Kolten Wong’s slow start

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Passan: With big week, Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic displays his star potential