Mariners Top Prospect Jarred Kelenic Has Made Changes

Jarred Kelenic
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic is looking to show everyone that he is ready to stay with the big-league club, and have a great season. Thus far, he is doing it. Following some offseason adjustments, the centerfielder is ready to become a vital contributor, and help this team get back in the playoffs in 2023.

Disappointing Start

Kelenic had a disappointing start in both the 2021 and 2022 seasons. When he made his debut on May 13, 2021, he went hitless in four at-bats. In spite of that, the next day, he recorded his first major league hit, a two-run home run. Fans were ready to see him perform. However, after a 0-for-39 slump, he was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma. He came back up in the second half and had a great September. In that month he hit seven home runs in 29 games. Kelenic finished the season with 14 home runs, but his batting average was only .181. He also struck out 106 times in 337 at-bats.

Kelenic made the big-league team again in 2022, but was sent to Triple-A again after hitting just .130 in 30 games. He finished the season with a .141 average after being called back up on July 31. His career batting average is .168 with 167 strikeouts in 558 plate appearances.

Off-Season Adjustments

Jarred Kelenic worked on his game in the off-season, and made adjustments with his swing. Coaches adjusted his feet at the plate. They had him do a wider stance, and adjust the bat away from his shoulder. The coaches also had him move his right (front) foot further towards the first-base side of the batter’s box, creating a significantly more open stance.

Spring Training Payoff

It is only spring training, but it appears those adjustments Kelenic has made are paying off. In 12 games, he is hitting .438 in 32 at-bats. He hit four homes runs, all of which have been long home runs. His slugging is percentage is .938 with only six strikeouts. It isn’t a very big sample size, but it’s a good sign the tweaks have been a positive change.

Confidence

At spring training, players and coaches have commented on his confidence, and that he looks like a completely different person. They also say he looks more relaxed and calmer at the plate, getting away from the tense-looking stance he’d previously fall into. Kelenic might finally be adjusting to all the hype that has surrounded him since he was drafted in 2018 and seen as a can’t-miss prospect.

Only Human

Jarred Kelenic, like others, will go through stretches in the season where he will struggle. However, a platoon option with veteran AJ Pollock, who brings leadership and playoff experience, will be a benefit to him. Pollock hits left-handed pitching well, and Kelenic won’t be overexposed against left-handers. That could help him in the long run as he settles into his new stance and gains more confidence at the plate.

Mariners Will Contend

The Mariners are looking to contend again in 2023. They made the playoffs last year after a 20-year hiatus. With all the changes Kelenic has made to his batting, he can demonstrate the full potential he has. If he can continue the play, he’s been showcasing in spring training, both defensively and with his offensive bat, the Mariners are going to be in a great spot for a deeper playoff run.

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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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