Jarred Kelenic Could Define Mariners' Rebuild
Seattle figured Kelenic would not fall to them at No. 14 overall, but, to their surprise, Gilbert did.
The stars aligned for the Mariners when they acquired Kelenic from the Mets, who had drafted him No. 6 overall, in December as part a seven-player trade that sent all-star closer Edwin Diaz and veteran second baseman Robinson Cano to New York.
"I don’t want to discount what we got (drafting Gilbert), but we thought Jarred was the best player in the draft,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He's really intense, competitive, a great kid and very focused on being a big leaguer.”
Kelenic represents the long-term addition to the rebuild the Mariners kicked off after the 2018 season. The organization has dramatically improved its farm system with the additions of pitchers Justus Sheffield and Erik Swanson and outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams from the Yankees; Kelenic and righthander Justin Dunn from the Mets and outfielder Jake Fraley from the Rays.
Dipoto thinks all of the prospects outside Kelenic could be joining the big league club by no later than midseason 2020.
Yet, it's the 19-year-old Kelenic who might have the highest ceiling.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said he met with Kelenic in his office for nearly an hour two days before the draft, when Kelenic had a private workout at Safeco Field. Both men are from Wisconsin.
"He has a chance to be a star in the game,” Servais said. "He really does. A lefthanded bat, he runs in center field, he has some edge to him and he wants to be great. Not just good—but great. We’ll see.”
Kelenic made a pair of Rookie-level stops in the Mets system in his pro debut and hit .286/.371/.468 with six home runs and 15 stolen bases in 56 games.
"You know, I can honestly say that, even when I was a Met, that Safeco Field was probably one of my favorite fields I’ve ever been to,” Kelenic said. "The city, it looks so clean. I love everything about it, even though I was there for not even a day.
"But I told everyone that Seattle was definitely one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to.”