Timeline of Kelenic's notable moments

May 12th, 2021

Jarred Kelenic will complete his journey on the yellow brick road and reach Emerald City on Thursday, when he will make his Major League debut for the Mariners at home against Cleveland.

The arrival of MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 overall prospect was always going to be one of the most highly anticipated of the 2021 season, and his quick start at Triple-A Tacoma, where he is 10-for-27 (.370) with two homers through six games, has done little to pump the brakes on that level of expectation.

Kelenic (pronounced KELL-nick) shows five-tool potential and earns the best grades for his compact swing from the left side and advanced approach that should lead to healthy averages and power numbers down the line. Though he’s likely to feature in left field for the Mariners, the 21-year-old covers plenty of ground in the outfield and features a plus arm, meaning he could be an asset in center when Kyle Lewis is out of the lineup.

These are all skills Kelenic has shown in the Minor Leagues in what has already been an eventful professional career. These are the most notable events from the top Mariners prospect’s early days in baseball, listed in chronological order:

• Watch Kelenic’s debut: Free on MLB.tv; MLB Network (Thursday, 10:10 ET)

Pan-American Championships
Kelenic seemed like a long shot to make Team USA ahead of the 2016 Pan-American Championships in the first place. He headed to tryouts at the Tournament of Stars a year behind other competitors but showed enough promise as a rising junior to make the cut on the 18U club. Team USA seemed to be glad he did because Kelenic eventually claimed MVP honors during the Pan-Am tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, thanks in part to a homer he hit against Cuba in the gold-medal game. He finished 11-for-27 (.407) with five extra-base hits over eight starts with Team USA that summer, showing he could hang with eventual 2017 first-rounders Royce Lewis, Hunter Greene and Nick Pratto in the process.

The Draft
Before they traded him, the Mets selected Kelenic with the sixth overall pick in the 2018 First-Year Player Draft. That stands out for a few reasons. Kelenic was the first prep player taken off the board that June, one spot ahead of Padres pick Ryan Weathers. Considering his prospect status, that has certainly aged well in the three years since. He also became the highest player ever taken out of the state of Wisconsin. It was even more impressive considering Kelenic didn’t play for his high school team and instead chose to show off his skills in travel ball, leading to stints with Team USA and the showcase circuits. He signed for $4.5 million, about $1 million below the slot for that pick.

Opens career in style
Though his time in blue and orange was brief, no one can claim Kelenic’s days with the Mets weren’t impactful, and it doesn’t get much more impactful than starting on the right foot. Like so many Draft picks, Kelenic opened his career in the Gulf Coast League, and he came out swinging in his debut on June 23, 2018. Batting behind fellow Top 100 prospect Ronny Mauricio, he struck an RBI single as part of a seven-run first inning and tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the third. Kelenic finished 3-for-4 as the Mets’ DH in a 12-3 win over the GCL Astros that was completed after only five innings.

Appalachian League Player of the Week
If you can believe it, Kelenic won only one Player of the Week award during his time in the Minors. That came from Aug. 20-26, 2018 in the Appalachian League with Rookie Advanced Kingsport. Over five games in that time, Kelenic went 11-for-19 with two homers, two doubles, 10 RBIs and three stolen bases. He led Rookie-level batters in all three slash-line categories at .579/.636/1.000 during that span. Even with his second team in his first pro summer, Kelenic was raking well beyond his peers.

The trade
Look away, Mets fans. Actually, there’s a chance this list was always going to be a difficult read for those folks anyways. Kelenic is a Mariners prospect only because his original organization in New York dealt him to Seattle in December 2018, only six months after he was drafted, as part of a seven-player swap that sent Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz the other way. Canó and Díaz have combined for 2.8 bWAR in the two-plus seasons since that deal, and the former has been suspended for the entire 2021 season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Following his callup, Kelenic has an opportunity to feature in the heart of the Mariners lineup for at least the next half-decade and could help bring a contender back to Seattle. It could very well be the biggest trade in M’s history since the club acquired Randy Johnson from the Expos in May 1989.

18-game hitting streak,
Kelenic may have been trying too hard to make a good first impression with the Mariners when he opened 2-for-25 (.080) with nine strikeouts over his first seven games with Class A West Virginia in 2019. Results turned in a big way between April 11 and May 2, 2019. During Kelenic’s 18-game hitting streak, he produced a .444/.500/.847 line with six homers, 11 doubles and three stolen bases. His .444 average was the highest in all of Minor League Baseball between the two dates, and Kelenic didn’t bat below .305 the rest of his time with West Virginia.

4-for-4 night at the dish
This is a little cheating since this game is included in a stretch highlighted above, but it’s worth pointing out on its own. Kelenic’s career high for hits in a game came on April 16, 2019 with West Virginia when he went a perfect 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored. Batting from the second spot in the Power lineup, he also added a walk to reach base five times in total in a 7-1 win over Lakewood at home. Kelenic's West Virginia average jumped from .220 to .289 because of this one performance alone.

Homers in third Class A Advanced at-bat
The Mariners wanted to get aggressive with Kelenic as he continued to prove himself at the lower levels, and he rewarded that approach quickly after his first promotion of 2019. Making his Class A Advanced Modesto debut on May 30, 2019, Kelenic launched a 3-2 pitch deep to right-center in his third at-bat as a Nut. It was the first of his six homers over 46 games in the California League. It was also the second time Kelenic had homered in his first game with a new club, following his homer for Kingsport on July, 10, 2018. Mariners fans will see if he extend that series to three in his Major League debut Thursday.

Promotion to Double-A
"We started this year with the idea he'd go to West Virginia and just stay there,” Mariners director of player development Andy McKay told MLB.com in Aug. 2019. “But he quickly showed, 'I'm not at the right level, guys.’” Never mind West Virginia, the Mariners also chose to move Kelenic quickly through Modesto after only 46 games, during which he produced a .290/.353/.485 line. Rather than see Kelenic continue to crush the California League, Seattle chose to give him a bump to Double-A – his third level of the season. Kelenic was one of only five 19-year-old players to get at least 50 plate appearances at Double-A in 2019, and he was the only member of that group taken in the 2018 Draft.

Three homers in final two games of 2019
McKay’s comments looked prescient just a few weeks later. Kelenic clubbed two homers on Sept. 1 at Amarillo – his second two-homer game with Arkansas – and went deep one more time for good measure in the season finale a day later. Talk about ending the season on the right note. The three blasts were signs that not only could the Mariners prospect hang at the Minors’ second-highest level, he could be just as dominant there as he had been at other stops. Kelenic finished with 23 homers in his first (and only) full Minor League season across the three stops.

Going viral with a frisbee
Kelenic's family owns a series of hitting facilities back home in Wisconsin, so the outfielder knows how to hit indoors. That comes in handy during those cold Midwest offseasons. It also comes in handy when he needs to practice some trick shots. In January 2020, Kelenic shared just how good he can be with the bat by perfectly hitting a ball into the path of a thrown frisbee. Aim small, miss small indeed.

Homers twice in Triple-A debut
Consider everything that led up to Kelenic’s first game with Tacoma. He, like all other Minor Leaguers, didn’t play in a season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reports from Seattle’s alternate site were certainly promising, especially when it came to Kelenic’s power, but there is no replacement for actual game action. His last regular-season game came on Sept. 2, 2019. Since then, he went through a spring of high anticipation concerning whether the M’s would give him an Opening Day spot. They chose another turn at the alternate site and a spot at Triple-A instead, only for Kelenic to prove his readiness right from the off. The slugger homered in his third at-bat in the fifth inning against El Paso and went deep again two frames later. It was his fourth career multi-homer game and started a streak of four straight two-hit games. Kelenic leaves the Rainiers with a .370 average and 1.043 OPS.