The Seattle Mariners reassigned Jarred Kelenic to minor league spring training on Friday, all but ensuring the team’s top prospect won’t make the Opening Day roster.
But the 21-year-old Kelenic, who went 6-for-18 with two homers and a 1.256 OPS over nine games in the Cactus League, is set on making the major-league roster as quickly as he can.
“I’m a competitor, and I want to help this team win as soon as possible,” Kelenic said. “But I understand where they’re coming from, and all I can do right now is focus on what I need to focus (on) and get there as soon as possible.”
Kelenic, who is MLB Pipeline’s fourth-best overall prospect, returned from a Grade 2 adductor strain near his right knee in just 12 days and played very well in his return to the field on March 19.
Mariners management told Kelenic of their plans on Friday.
“Jarred certainly understands where he’s at,” Seattle manager Scott Servais told The Seattle Times. “His player plan meeting, which we do with all the players down here, we’re very clear about the things he needs to improve upon in his game. He’s an exciting young player. He needs to continue to play and get experience. I think he’s in a good spot and part of that is because we’ve been as transparent with him as we possibly can be.”
The Mariners also reassigned star prospect Julio Rodriguez, an outfielder, to the minors, as well as right-handed pitchers Brady Lail and Paul Sewald. Right-hander Ljay Newsome, reliever Aaron Fletcher and outfielder Braden Bishop, meanwhile, were optioned to the alternate training site at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
By sending their two top prospects to the minors, the Mariners can delay them becoming free agents by a year if they don’t reach 172 days on the major league roster during the season.
The decision to reassign Kelenic means Taylor Trammell and Jake Fraley are competing for the starting job in left field.
Trammell has hit .289 with two home runs and four RBIs in 44 plate appearance in 16 spring training games this year. Fraley made his debut with the Mariners in 2019, when he hit .150 over 12 games. He played in seven games last year, going 4-for-26.
–Field Level Media