The Seattle Mariners have sent Jarred Kelenic, an outfielder who was a consensus top 10 prospect coming into 2021, down to AAA Tacoma, it was announced today.
Kelenic, 21, was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft by the New York Mets, and went to the Mariners in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade. Kelenic was #4 in the pre-season top 100 rankings on both the Baseball America and MLB Pipeline lists, while Baseball Prospectus had him at #6.
There was a certain amount of controversy surrounding Kelenic and the Mariners’ decision to have him start the season in the minors, due to the (not unreasonable) belief that the M’s were opting to start him in the minors in order to manipulate service time and gain an extra year of team control. Kelenic was promoted to the majors in early May, after just six games in AAA, leading to a fair amount of snarking over how much had changed in six games.
Kelenic had a three hit performance in his second game, registering a pair of doubles and a homer, but struggled mightily after that, falling into a 2 for 29 slump. Kelenic’s major league slash line is currently .096/.185/.193 in 92 plate appearances, including a .067/.167/.107 slash line since that three hit game, and he is 0 for his last 37.
When Leody Taveras was sent down earlier this year, there was some discussion about whether other top prospects come up, struggle mightily, get sent back down, and then go on to have success. I don’t think anyone is writing Kelenic off, but he’s gone through the same experience this season as Leody did, essentially.
Kelenic also isn’t the only M’s rookie outfielder to be in the majors and then get sent down after struggling — Taylor Trammell started the year in the majors, was sent down in early May after slashing .157/.255/.337, and now is back up after ripping up AAA.
One other top prospect of note who has been sent to AAA after starting the year in the majors and floundering is Cristian Pache. Pache, a consensus top 25 prospect, made the Atlanta Braves’ Opening Day roster, but is now in AAA after slashing .111/.152/.206 in 68 plate appearances.
As Tepid says, it happens.