CLEVELAND — The sentiment was unanimous among Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Evan White following their appearances Sunday in the All-Star Futures Game at Progressive Field.
The three elite Mariners prospects were thrilled with the opportunity to play for the American League in the contest featuring top minor-leaguers that is part of Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities.
“Anytime you can be part of something like this, it’s a mental thing, reminding you that you’re having a good season,” said Kelenic, an outfielder considered by many to be the Mariners’ best position player prospect in years.
“Maybe you’re getting closer to the major leagues. And it motivates you.”
The game, scheduled for seven innings with one extra inning if needed, finished tied 2-2 after both teams failed to score in the eighth inning. The National League held a 2-0 lead until Sam Huff, of the Class A Down East Wood Ducks in the Texas Rangers organization, knotted the score on a two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Right-hander Dunn, having a fine season with the Class AA Arkansas Travelers, pitched an impressive second inning for the American League.
“I was pretty calm. I didn’t see much. I didn’t hear much,” Dunn said before referring to catcher Jake Rogers (AAA-Toledo; Tigers). “I just saw Jake’s glove.
“It was kind of surprising. I thought there would be an adrenaline rush, but the game slowed down for me. I was happy overall with my performance.”
Dunn retired the NL’s right-handed cleanup hitter, Alec Bohm (AA-Reading; Phillies) on a routine groundout to second and got a called third strike on left-handed Taylor Trammell (AA-Chattanooga; Reds) with a 94-mph four-seam fastball.
Dunn then hit right-handed Will Craig (AAA-Indianapolis; Pirates) on an 0-1 pitch, but ended the inning on a routine fly to center by lefty-swinging Dylan Carlson (AA-Springfield; Cardinals). Dunn threw 13 pitches, eight for strikes. Seven of the eight four-seam fastballs he threw ranged from 93.5 to 94.9 mph.
Dunn, 23, was selected in the first round with the 19th overall choice in the 2016 draft. He has a 5-3 record in 15 starts at Arkansas, with a 3.82 ERA and 96 strikeouts and 23 walks in 75 1/3 innings.
Kelenic and Dunn were acquired by the Seattle organization in the offseason trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets.
Kelenic, 19, was drafted sixth overall by New York last year. He started the game Sunday in left field, batting fifth, then was followed by starting first baseman White, 23, the Mariners’ first choice in 2017, and 17th overall.
Kelenic, a left-handed hitter, was retired on a soft lineout to shortstop in the second against southpaw pitcher MacKenzie Gore (A-Lake Elsinore; Padres). White, a righty hitter who throws left-handed, then lined out to left against Gore in his lone at bat on one of the game’s hardest-hit balls.
“It was a dream come true,” White said from the Cleveland Indians locker room used by the AL minor-leaguers. “It was really exciting. You get to talk with a lot of guys and you have great coaches (featuring former major-leaguers). It’s a really cool experience.”
White is considered a premier fielder at first. He showed that off when he made a fine stretch on a throw from pitcher Matt Manning (AA-Erie; Tigers), who fielded a bouncer and fired to White for the out. White then made a quick, perfect throw to second, nearly nabbing the baserunner who had moved a step beyond the bag.
Kelenic hit once more, popping out to left off a 100-mph fastball from righty Sixto Sanchez (AA-Jacksonville; Marlins).
Kelenic began this season at low-A West Virginia, hitting .309 with 14 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs in 191 at-bats. He was promoted to high-A Modesto, where he’s batting .265 with five doubles, one triple and four homers in 83 at-bats. He was sidelined for two weeks in June with a right wrist injury.
White is batting .296 in 230 at-bats at Arkansas. He has seven doubles, two triples and 11 homers.