It isn’t often that we get a guy of Jarred Kelenic’s caliber making his debut. When the “comp” is something similar to Jim Edmonds, we all need to wake up and pay attention. And though Kelenic is being promoted in mid-May, garnering Rookie of the Year honors isn’t out of the question. If he did so, he’d be following teammate Kyle Lewis, who was the AL Rookie of the Year last season.
Drafted: 2018 June Amateur Draft - Round 1, Pick 6, Team: New York Mets
Kelenic is No. 4 on the Fangraphs Top 100 Prospects List, as well as the top prospect in Seattle’s farm system (and No. 4 overall per MLB Pipeline). That’s saying something, too, given the strength of Seattle’s group. For reference, MLB Pipeline listed Seattle as the No. 3 system in baseball, after only Tampa Bay and Detroit.
In looking at the big league club, it would appear that Kelenic will man left field while Kyle Lewis and Mitch Haniger occupy the center and right field spots (Kelenic is starting in left field in his debut). I can’t fathom any combination of Sam Haggerty, Jose Marmolejos, or Taylor Trammell getting in Kelenic’s way. The super-prospect should have a long, long leash in 2021. Kelenic has a plus arm and plus speed, with enough quicks to even handle center field duties in a pinch. But for 2021, expect his home to be primarily in left field.
And if you’re wondering what Seattle thinks of Kelenic’s bat, the fact that he’s batting leadoff in his first game should tell you something. There’s no “easing him in.” The expectation is that Kelenic is so toolsy that his bat is guaranteed to translate. Speaking of tools...
Besides the arm and the speed, Kelenic has a plus hit tool and plus power. His is a compact swing, with quick hands through the zone. He should be a solid bet for batting average and run production in the big leagues from the jump. Swing comparisons are always dicey, but they range from Charlie Blackmon to Chase Utley to the lefty hitting version of Mark Teixeira. In short, he has the skill set to contend for batting titles, while also hitting for power and running enough to matter. Per Fangraphs, “there’s no overwhelming skill/tool, but everything in Kelenic’s package is a plus.” That said, Kelenic is BEEFY. The man has added a ton of muscle in recent years, and it hasn’t seemed to detract from his speed. Seattle needs a shot in the arm offensively, and Kelenic is the man they hope can provide a spark. And again...he’s batting leadoff in his debut! A measured expectation would have been starting him lower in the order, and then letting him work his way up to the top of the lineup. But none of that, says Seattle! And I like it.
Kelenic is a career .293 hitter in the minors, and managed a 20/20 season across multiple minor league levels in 2019, which allowed him to reach Double-A as a 20-year-old. In Triple-A this year, he began with a 10-for-27 start (.370 BA) with a pair of homers on Opening Day, as well as a double and two steals in two chances. But his six games worth of Triple-A production isn’t the reason for the call-up. These were service time shenanigans. Now that they are over, it’s time for Kelenic to RAKE.
If Kelenic went 15/10 for the rest of the season and had a solid batting average, it would surprise no one. And I think that’s conservative. What say you, gamers? What’s the prediction for Kelenic ROS?