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Kelenic 'raking' after reporting to camp stronger

@JonathanMayo
March 15, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. – Getting traded as a Minor Leaguer is never easy. But for Jarred Kelenic, at least it came before he had grown too comfortable with his original organization. The Wisconsin high school standout had just been taken in the first round of last June’s Draft, No. 6 overall

PEORIA, Ariz. – Getting traded as a Minor Leaguer is never easy. But for Jarred Kelenic, at least it came before he had grown too comfortable with his original organization.

The Wisconsin high school standout had just been taken in the first round of last June’s Draft, No. 6 overall by the Mets, so he had played just one summer in their system when the Mariners acquired the No. 56 overall prospect as part of the Robinson Cano deal in December. So rather than report to Port St. Lucie, Florida, he was able to switch gears and head to Arizona in February to see what Spring Training was all about.

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“It’s been a little bit easier just because this is my first Spring Training, so I didn’t know what to expect, whether it was with the Mets or now with the Mariners,” Kelenic said. “I kind of came in with an open mind, just like I would have if I was still with the Mets and it’s been absolutely great. I love everything I’m doing down here and having a lot of fun.”

It also helped he was no stranger to the Mariners organization. While he’s still getting to know all the players, he had some familiarity with the front office as Seattle was very interested in him as the Draft approached, even bringing him in for a workout. But the Mariners didn’t pick until No. 14, and Kelenic was long gone by the time their selection came around.

“Once I heard about the rumors, I had a feeling it was probably going to happen just because of the interest that they showed early in June and even before that,” Kelenic said about the trade. “Once it happened, I couldn’t be happier to be somewhere I’m really wanted. Not to say I wasn’t wanted with the Mets, they drafted me, but ever since I’ve been here, I’ve felt I’m at home.”

Kelenic reported for camp noticeably stronger, something the 19-year-old said was a focus for him this offseason. He also tweaked his setup at the plate even though he is coming off a solid pro debut where he hit a combined .286/.371/.468 line with 15 steals, earning a promotion from the Gulf Coast League to the Appalachian League.

“Last season, my hands were pretty high and I was noticing there were pitches up in the strike zone that were strikes that I just wasn’t getting to because my barrel plane was too steep,” Kelenic said. “I talked with my hitting coach, and people with the Mets really helped me start this, lowering my hands gave me a more consistent bat plane that was going to stay on plane for a lot longer time. Ever since I got here, I’ve been raking. I look forward to continuing to do that.”

The Mariners are almost giddy thinking about a young outfield duo that has the chance to come up together, as Kelenic and No. 5 Mariners prospect Julio Rodriguez are already hitting it off this spring.

“Being with Julio, he’s a great kid and a lot of fun to be around,” Kelenic said. “He’s a competitor. Anytime you’re around guys like that, they push you to be better every single day. I look forward to seeing what the future has for both of us.”

His immediate future is centered around preparing for his first full season and enjoying a much different climate than he’s used to this time of year, knowing folks back home in Wisconsin are watching players like him and Dodgers prospect Gavin Lux, another former first rounder from the Badger state high school ranks.

“I arrived about a month ago. I noticed the warm weather right away,” Kelenic said. "I came from 20 inches of snow in Wisconsin. It’s a lot of fun so far.

“For me definitely, and maybe Gavin can attest to this, we play this game as hard as we do not just for ourselves, but for the kids behind us. We try to do everything we can so that the kids back home, they can see what we’re capable of doing. As long as you dedicate your life to something, focus every single day, you can achieve anything you want in this game.”

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.