Jarred Kelenic shows how difficult it can be to evaluate prospects

ATLANTA — When the Mariners, late Friday night time, ended the longest postseason drought within the 4 main North American sports activities leagues, this formally grew to become a chance: that the ultimate plate look of this MLB season may be Jarred Kelenic versus Edwin Diaz.

Yes, I have a tendency to consider the outlandish and dramatic — although consider the theater if that ultra-long shot comes by. Of course, there are various miles from right here to there, particularly because the Mariners are in as a wild card and, due to this fact, can have to play an additional spherical whereas the Mets have been nonetheless combating the Braves to keep away from the identical complication.

But that Kelenic is in play to be a part of Seattle’s trip — wherever it finally ends up — is yet one more reminder that success is neither assured for high prospects nor linear in figuring out if they may fulfill their touts.

There have been so many twists and turns and evaluations and reevaluations of the December 2018 commerce that despatched Kelenic to the Mariners whereas the Mets acquired Diaz plus Robinson Cano’s contract and status. Diaz, who will enter free company this offseason, upgraded the Mets’ finish of the deal by coming full circle: Just as in his closing Mariners season, 2018, Diaz is the majors’ most dominant reliever.

Kelenic, who was optioned to the minors twice this season amid strikeout-heavy failure, returned Sept. 21 and have become the common middle fielder when Julio Rodriguez was positioned on the injured checklist two days later with a strained decrease again. So Kelenic was basically stepping in for the participant who grew to become what Kelenic was supposed to be. Kelenic arrived within the majors in 2020 at age 21 with a no-doubt status, however all he has performed since then is layer doubt upon doubt. Rodriguez arrived this yr in his age-21 season and might be going to be the AL Rookie of the Year. Seattle has already signed him to a seven-year, $119.3 million extension that can be for far more years and {dollars}.

Jarred Kelenic
Jarred Kelenic
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Rodriguez is predicted again for the playoffs. And it seems to be as if he’ll be joined within the outfield by Kelenic, who will change over to left subject. Kelenic was optioned to the minors most not too long ago in August, when he had a .167 profession batting common and a 30.6 strikeout proportion in 500 main league plate appearances. In eight video games since returning with a much less pronounced leg kick, Kelenic was hitting .267 with three doubles, three homers and a 21.2 % strikeout charge.

It is a tiny pattern dimension, however one that nearly definitely goes to give Kelenic playoff at-bats as, at the least, the lefty swinger in a left-field platoon. And it is price noting that Kelenic was born in the identical yr (1999) as Mets rookies Brett Baty and Mark Vientos — so there’s nonetheless a lot to study Kelenic.

There can also be a lot to study Baty and Vientos, by the way in which — and now about Francisco Alvarez. Neither Baty nor Vientos wowed in very restricted samples. Baty had two homers and a .586 OPS in 42 plate appearances earlier than tearing a thumb ligament. Vientos had one homer and a .541 OPS in 34 plate appearances getting into Saturday, though there appeared occasions when supervisor Buck Showalter appeared down the bench hoping to see Benny Agbayani earlier than utilizing Vientos. Alvarez was 0-for-4 in his main league debut Friday, placing out because the go-ahead run with the bases loaded and one out within the ninth inning towards Kenley Jansen within the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Braves. Alvarez will get extra possibilities within the waning days to see if he ought to be positioned on the postseason roster.

Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz

That is manner too little time to determine something — and that additionally would have been true if Baty, Vientos and Alvarez had starred in cameos this yr. But it is difficult to miss that one purpose the Braves tracked down the Mets this season and have been tied atop the NL East going into the groups’ recreation Saturday night time was that Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider have been immediate stars out of Atlanta’s minor leagues — possible to end 1-2 in some kind for NL Rookie of the Year.

The Mets naturally (and rightfully) are downplaying outcomes based mostly on so little info. Perhaps their true emotions have been expressed on the commerce deadline after they dealt none of their high prospects — together with Baty, Vientos and Alvarez — regardless of being a win-now crew. In half, that’s as a result of the acknowledged purpose from Steve Cohen down by the group is to be greater than a win-now crew.

The high of the Mets’ farm system is position-player heavy, with Alvarez, Baty and Vientos plus Ronny Mauricio and Alex Ramirez and now 2022 high picks Kevin Parada and Jett Williams.

What comes subsequent is seeing what the Mets consider concerning the graduating class of Alvarez, Baty and Vientos as they plot towards 2023. For instance, do they assume sufficient of Alvarez’s defensive chops at catcher to attempt to commerce both James McCann or Tomas Nido — who’re offensively challenged, however defensively robust — and go along with Alvarez as a catcher/DH to begin subsequent yr? Will they hold each McCann and Nido and simply make Alvarez primarily a DH? Will they hold each and let Alvarez get extra Triple-A seasoning?

Is Baty prepared to flip Eduardo Escobar into both a super-sub or a commerce chip? Is Vientos the complementary righty bat that, for instance, Darin Ruf has failed to be?

Again, nothing is assured, not every part is linear. Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman and Rodriguez honored their top-two preseason prospect rating by Baseball America with instant star turns in 2022. Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. and Detroit’s Riley Greene (who have been 3-4) have been fantastic. Detroit’s Spencer Torkelson, No. 5 with preseason comparisons to Paul Konerko, was a catastrophe.

Kelenic was the No. 4 prospects going into final season. And we’re nonetheless attempting to determine precisely who he’s.

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