When Jarred Kelenic lined a crisp single to left field off Oakland left-hander Jake Diekman in the 4-3 victory Sunday, it was just another hint to Mariners manager Scott Servais that the young prospect is starting to understand what he needs to have success at the MLB level.
During the walkoff victory Saturday night, Kelenic scored the winning run after he worked a tough walk in the ninth inning, showing discipline to not chase two nasty pitches out of the zone after fouling off a hittable 2-1 fastball from A’s closer Lou Trivino.
Since being recalled from Class AAA Tacoma and serving as the starting center fielder since the All-Star break, Kelenic came into Monday with a .125/.200/.125 slash line in nine games. He has four hits – all singles — in 35 plate appearances with three walks and 15 strikeouts.
The single off Diekman snapped an 0-for-18 stretch.
“I think Jarred is understanding that controlling the strike zone is what it’s all about at the big-league level,” Servais said. “And if you don’t do it, if you start chasing and chasing hits and chase the ball out of the zone, they just don’t throw you any strikes. So credit to him. He made a big-time adjustment coming into the ballgame (Saturday). He was going to be a little bit more patient on purpose, and it carried over.”
Kelenic has faced an inordinate amount of lefties since being called up. Servais noted that in the Angels series, Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon twice changed pitchers to bring in lefty specialists to face Kelenic.
In the first nine games since being back, Kelenic has had 19 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, going 3 for 18 with a walk and nine strikeouts. The Angels started lefties Andrew Heaney and Patrick Sandoval and also used Alex Claudio and Jose Quintana twice against him while the Rockies started lefty Austin Gomber and used lefty reliever Lucas Gilbreath. In the A’s series, he had to see dominating lefty starters Sean Manaea and Cole Irvin while also facing Diekman twice.
Kelenic has 16 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers in that time and has gone 1 for 14 with two walks and six strikeouts. It included three plate appearances against Alex Cobb, three vs. Rockies ace German Marquez, two against A’s All-Star starter Chris Bassit and three vs. hard-throwing Frankie Montas.
Welcome to the big leagues, kid. It’s hard every night.
Baseball America release its updated Top 100 prospect list for midseason, adding players drafted into consideration.
Outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic were slotted at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, which is where they were on the preseason list.
Noelvi Marte has moved up from No. 16 to No. 10 following his strong start with Low-A Modesto. The 19-year-old Marte has a .269/.353/.459 slash line with 13 doubles, two triples, 12 homers, 45 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 33 walks and 74 strikeouts in 66 games and 317 plate appearances for the Nuts.
With Logan Gilbert in the M’s rotation, right-hander George Kirby has taken over as the top pitching prospect in the organization. He’s also moved all the way up to No. 14 from No. 79 at the start of the season. In eight starts and a relief appearance, he’s 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA. In 38 2/3 innings, he’s struck out 50 with just eight walks.
But Kirby hasn’t pitched for High-A Everett since July 10.
Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto said via text message that Kirby is dealing with some shoulder fatigue. A MRI showed no structural issues. The expectation is that Kirby will return to the mound in a week or two.
Right-hander Emerson Hancock fell from No. 47 to No. 54. As Kirby, he’s currently dealing with some shoulder fatigue and hasn’t pitched since June 25.
With no minor-league season in 2020, the Mariners are being extra cautious with their pitchers and their innings this season.
- Left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield (left forearm/oblique strain) threw 15 fastballs off the mound Sunday morning. He’s expected to throw a full bullpen session Wednesday.
- Right-hander Justin Dunn (shoulder strain) is expected to throw off the mound for the first time in the next few days.
- Outfielder Kyle Lewis (knee surgery) was out playing catch before the game Monday. He’s started hitting off the tee and in the cage, but has yet to do any sort of baseball activity on the field other than playing catch.
- Jake Fraley (COVID IL) arrived in Seattle on Sunday after being quarantined in a hotel in Newport Beach, California, after testing positive for COVID-19. Fraley took batting practice before the game Monday and is expected to play in a rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma on Tuesday.