Mariners expected to call up top prospect Jarred Kelenic on Thursday, per report

At long last, the Seattle Mariners are set to call up top prospect Jarred Kelenic. Kelenic is expected to join the big-league team this Thursday, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. GM Jerry Dipoto recently said Kelenic’s promotion was drawing “

Kelenic, a 21-year-old outfielder, is 8 for 18 (.444) with two home runs in four Triple-A games this season. He swatted both home runs on Opening Day, and he authored an impressive .291/.364/.540 batting line with 23 home runs in 117 games at three minor-league levels in 2019. Kelenic spent 2020 at Seattle’s alternate site.

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Kelenic the No. 3 prospect in baseball before the season. Here’s his scouting report:

Kelenic probably would’ve made his big-league debut in 2020 with a normal season. Alas, he’ll have to wait until 2021. Kelenic has the means to make up for lost time; he’s an advanced hitter who should contribute across the triple-slash categories. He has a simple, in-control swing that nonetheless permits him to generate easy, above-average power. Kelenic isn’t going to win a Gold Glove in center field, in all likelihood, but he’s playable there and may improve. As an added bonus, he should be able to steal a handful (or two) of bases a year as well. 

The Mariners are averaging 4.06 runs this season, eighth fewest in baseball, and they were no-hit by John Means last week. Seattle’s outfielders are hitting a woeful .201/.287/.391 this year. Kelenic figures to step in as the full-time left fielder alongside Mitch Haniger and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis.

Former Mariners president Kevin Mather made headlines in January when he said Kelenic rejected a long-term contract extension, and that the team planned to keep him in the minors long enough to push back his free agency. That has happened — Kelenic can not become a free agent until the 2027-28 offseason now rather than 2026-27 — so he is being called up.

Of course, the MLBPA is likely to file a grievance on Kelenic’s behalf, alleging blatant service time manipulation. Kris Bryant lost his service-time grievance to the Cubs because he could not prove he was held down for service-time reasons. In Kelenic’s case, a high-ranking team executive all but admitted he would to be held down to delay his free agency.

The Mariners will play a quick two-game series with the Dodgers on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will open a seven-game homestand with the first of four against Cleveland on Thursday, so Kelenic will debut at T-Mobile Park.

Seattle acquired Kelenic in the Robinson Canó/Edwin Díaz trade with the Mets. New York selected him with the No. 6 pick in the 2018 draft.

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