JAKE AND STACY

Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic aims to be ‘best guy’ at 1st big league camp

Feb 13, 2020, 1:00 AM
Mariners OF Jarred Kelenic...
Mariners OF prospect Jarred Kelenic is in his first big league camp at the age of 20. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Mariners’ “youth movement” is in full effect for 2020, as many of the team’s top prospects will be fixtures in the lineup and on the mound throughout the season.

A closer look at Taijuan Walker, who is reportedly rejoining Mariners’ rotation

One player who will be aiming to make his MLB debut in 2020 is outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic, who is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 11 overall prospect.

Kelenic, 20, was drafted sixth overall in 2018 by the New York Mets and traded to the Mariners in a late 2018 deal that sent Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz to New York. Kelenic tore up minor league pitching in the Mariners’ system in 2019, his first full season of professional baseball. After starting the year at Single-A West Virginia, Kelenic received promotions to both High-A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas. Between the three levels, he hit .291, had an on-base percentage of .364, hit 23 home runs, drove in 68 runs and stole 20 bases.

Just 20 years old, Kelenic was one of many minor leaguers invited to the Mariners’ big league camp in spring training.

On Wednesday, Kelenic talked with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy about the opportunity to be at camp with the Mariners and his mindset for the future. Here’s a look at what he had to say.

Elite mindset

After an offseason split between spending time with family and his girlfriend, working out and improving his ability to hit off-speed pitches, Kelenic is one of the most notable non-40-man roster invitees to Seattle’s big league spring training camp.

Even though he’ll be one of the youngest players there, Kelenic is confident he will shine in front of the team’s coaches and best players.

“My expectations are to try to be the best guy in camp,” he said. “My expectations have always been higher than everyone else’s and I think being one of the younger guys with kind of a spotlight on me, there’s going to be some pressure.But when you have your expectations higher than everyone else’s there’s no such thing as pressure because when you have your expectations so high, you’re already fulfilling everybody else’s. You’ve just got to meet yours.”

Those that have followed Kelenic know that he is hardly lacking in confidence.

At the Mariners’ spring training press conference last month, Mariners director of player development Andy McKay said Kelenic’s best trait may in fact be his confidence.

“That might be the most exciting single tool we have in our system,” McKay said of Kelenic’s confidence. “It is his self-confidence in his belief in himself, and just like all skills, that’s the skill that we’re trying to nurture and protect and grow because I do think it’s a carrying tool that separates him at every level. … His ability to think differently than the people he’s competing against is the skill that I think is going to play very well for him throughout his career. And so that carries everything.”

Kelenic told Tom, Jake and Stacy that confidence level comes from his parents, but he feels he’s earned the right to be as confident as he is.

“I put in the work. I truly feel like I work harder than anybody out there and that gives me the confidence to when I go out on the field, just let my hard work pay off, and that’s the easy part,” he said. “It’s something I really take pride in in how hard I work because I enjoy it. I enjoy getting after it in the weight room. I enjoy trying to be the best I can be at anything.”

Young core

Not only is Kelenic the 11th-ranked prospect in all of baseball, but the team has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball.

Seattle’s second-ranked prospect is another outfielder, Julio Rodriguez, who is just 19 and MLB Pipeline’s No. 25 prospect. In the future, Mariners fans will likely see Kelenic and Rodriguez patrolling the outfield together. Not only are they two of the best prospects in all of baseball, the two are extremely close.

“Julio’s my guy,” Kelenic said. “I think everybody can see that through social media, but really, social media doesn’t do (the friendship) justice.”

Kelenic said the two recently met for lunch and ended up just talking about life for over two hours.

“Julio, definitely in this organization, he’s my ride or die,” Kelenic said. “He’s really been with me every step of the way since I came to the Mariners.”

After a late promotion, Kelenic was part of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers playoff squad that featured players like Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield and Evan White, who are among the team’s best prospects and expected to have roles in the big leagues in 2020. Kelenic said those guys, among many other young players, have made it a welcoming environment for him and others right away.

“I think something that’s really unique about this group is we’re a young group of guys in an MLB clubhouse and it’s really becoming like a family environment right away,” he said.

Kelenic also talked about wanting to stick in center field, his love of “chick flicks,” the below video of him hitting a Frisbee with a baseball off of a tee, which he said took just eight attempts and more.

Listen to Kelenic’s interview with Tom, Jake and Stacy in the player below.

Want more conversations like this? Subscribe to the Tom, Jake and Stacy podcast by clicking any of the links below:

• Apple Podcasts
• TuneIn
• Podbay
• Podbean
• Download the 710 ESPN Seattle app: Apple | Android

Date Starting Pitcher
Sunday, October 2 @ 12:10 pm

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Sunny
High 78° | Low 55°
No game today.

Jake and Stacy

Seahawks Drew Lock...
Stacy Rost

Seahawks Practice Snapshot: Good day for QB Drew Lock and offense

Stacy Rost details the latest from Seahawks practice as they're just days away from beginning the preseason against the Steelers on Saturday.
2 months ago
Michael Bumpus Stacy Rost...
SeattleSports.com Staff

New Seattle Sports show: ‘Bump and Stacy’ with Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost

The next chapter of middays on Seattle Sports begins Monday with the debut of Bump and Stacy, co-hosted by Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost.
4 months ago
Seahawks Sean Desai...
Brandon Gustafson

What new assistants Desai and Scott revealed about Seahawks’ defense

Jake Heaps breaks down some encouraging comments from new Seahawks defensive assistants Sean Desai and Karl Scott about the defense.
4 months ago
Seahawks Broncos Drew Lock...
Brandon Gustafson

Should Seahawks be OK going into 2022 with Smith or Lock at QB?

Are the Seahawks really comfortable with Geno Smith or Drew Lock as the starter? Jake Heaps thinks that isn't "an ideal situation."
4 months ago
Jake Heaps Stacy Rost...
SeattleSports.com Staff

Seattle Sports’ Jake Heaps announces departure from Jake & Stacy show

After four years with Seattle Sports, Jake Heaps will be leaving the Jake and Stacy show to enter a new chapter in his career.
4 months ago
Seahawks 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo...
Stacy Rost

3 things Seahawks fans should know about potential Jimmy G trade

The possibility of the Seahawks acquiring quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has picked up steam this week. Stacy Rost examines its viability.
4 months ago
Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic aims to be ‘best guy’ at 1st big league camp