His struggles in the Majors notwithstanding, Jarred Kelenic is one of baseball's brightest young stars for a reason. Two emphatic swings Thursday night reminded anyone foolish enough to have forgotten.
The struggles endured in the Majors had accompanied the top Mariners' prospect back to Tacoma, where he was batting .204/.268/.429 in 12 games since his reassignment. However, the 21-year-old had gone deep three times and driven in 10 runs. Kelenic looked to have righted himself on the strength of consecutive multihit performances on June 17-18, but he found himself in the midst of a 2-for-17 stretch entering Thursday's game.
Batting in his customary leadoff spot, the Waukesha, Wis., native walloped the fourth pitch of the game over the right-center field fence, a monstrous blast that landed at the very the top of the berm. He walked and scored in the third inning, walked again in the fifth and after he was retired for the only time in the seventh, broke the game open with a three-run homer in the ninth. It was the fifth multihomer game of his Minor League career and first since he cleared the fences twice on Opening Night.
Kelenic enjoyed a strong spring for the Mariners, batting .300 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in 10 Cactus League games. A strong start to the Minor League season earned him his much-anticipated big league promotion on May 13.
Kelenic hit his first Major League home run and tallied three extra-base hits the next night, but the lefty-swinging outfielder struggled against big league pitching. He was returned to Tacoma in the midst of an 0-for-39 slump.
Overall, Kelenic is batting .278/.344/.582 with 10 extra-base hits, including seven home runs, and 19 RBIs in 19 games with Tacoma.