Jarred Kelenic has moved one step closer to the big leagues and it’s now very real for fans to envision the Mariners’ top prospect in the batter’s box of T-Mobile Park perhaps by the end of the 2020 season.
On Saturday, the Mariners promoted the hard-hitting outfielder to Class AA Arkansas to finish out the 2019 season and participate in the Texas League postseason.
Mariners director of player development Andy McKay said the plan was to call up for Kelenic to play in the playoffs, which start on Sept. 4 in Little Rock. But with the trade that sent Ian Miller, Class AAA Tacoma’s starting centerfielder, to the Twins, the Mariners used it as an opportunity to promote Kelenic early. Outfielder Aaron Knapp was moved up from Arkansas to Tacoma, opening a spot in the Travelers’ outfield for Kelenic.
It’s been quick climb up the ranks for Kelenic, who was acquired this offseason in the seven-player trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets. Selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, he played 56 games of short-season baseball in the Mets system.
At age 19, he made his full-season debut with Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League. He dominated the competition, posting a .309/.394/.586 slash line with 14 doubles, three homers, 11 homers, 39 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 50 games. It earned him a promotion to High-A Modesto on May 29. In 46 games with the Nuts, Kelenic had a .290/.353/.485 slash line with 13 doubles, a triple, six homers, 22 RBIs and 10 stolen bases despite dealing with wrist and ankle injuries.
But it was his last 10 games with the Nuts that solidified the promotion and made it easier for McKay and the Mariners to make the decision. He had a .436/.439/.667 line with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs.
“We might as well do it know while he’s tearing it up,” McKay said.
There was some thought that Miller’s departure might signal a move up to Class AAA for former first-round pick Kyle Lewis, who is in the midst of a torrid stretch of hitting. He’s got a .339/.387/.574 line with nine doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs over his last 30 games. But the Mariner want Kelenic and Lewis to play these final weeks together before Lewis is called up with the September roster expansion.