There is a reason the New York Mets picked Jarred Kelenic with the No. 6 overall pick in last June’s Major League Baseball draft.
It’s the same reason the Seattle Mariners were happy to welcome him to the organization when they sent former All-Star Robinson Cano and relief pitcher Edwin Diaz, a 2018 All-Star, to the Mets — Kelenic can hit.
Kelenic isn’t just a good hitter, he has been one of the best bats in all of minor league baseball so far for the West Virginia Power in the club’s first season as a Mariners affiliate.
Including Wednesday’s series-opener against the Augusta GreenJackets at Appalachian Power Park, Kelenic has reached base safely in 24 consecutive games. He went 2 for 5 with a single and a triple in the Power’s 8-3 loss.
That streak dates back to April 10. Since then, the former Wisconsin high school standout is hitting .402 (37 hits in 92 at-bats) with seven home runs, 11 doubles, a triple and 19 runs batted in during the streak. For the season, he’s hitting .330.
Kelenic, a left-handed batter, has reached base safely in 27 of his 29 games played this season.
“I’m just trying to take it one day at a time,” Kelenic said prior to Wednesday’s game against Augusta. “I’m trying to have fun with the guys — that’s the biggest thing. I want to come out and play as hard as I can.”
Kelenic hardly came out of nowhere to grab the spotlight this season. He was regarded as perhaps the best high school hitter in last summer’s draft and at No. 6 overall is the highest drafted high school player ever from Wisconsin.
After being selected by the Mets, he spent last summer split between the club’s Gulf Coast League team in Florida and the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League. In 44 games with Kingsport, Kelenic hit five home runs to go with a .253/.350/.431 slash line. Then in late November the rumors started swirling that he could be included in a possible trade with Seattle. A few days later, early in December, he was a Mariner.
“It’s kind of just like the draft process all over again,” Kelenic said of the trade. “I’m happy for what happened. I couldn’t be happier to come out here and play every day.”
Then it was back to work for Kelenic. He credits a commitment to the weight room and yoga, as well as plenty of time in the batting cage, for his offeseason progress.
“Everybody is out here is good,” Kelenic said. “There is a reason why we’re professional baseball players. I think the biggest thing is coming out here and competing with the guys. There are guys that are more talented than others, but there are also guys that are more baseball smart than others. I think everybody out here is really good, you just have to bust your tail.
“I think he biggest thing is coming out, having an approach and doing the same thing every day. That’s what I’m trying to do and so far it’s working. I’m not going to change if it’s working. I’m not going to fix something that isn’t broke.”
n Augusta scored five runs in the top of the fourth off Power starter Josias De Los Santos (0-2) to seize control in Wednesday’s game. The key hit was a three-run home run by Aaron Bond. ... Bobby Honeyman hit his third home run of the year, a solo shot in the second inning, and Cesar Trejo hit his third, a two-run blast in the sixth, to account for the Power’s runs. Catcher Jake Anchia was 3 for 4.
n The Power came into Wednesday’s game fresh off being on the wrong end of a sweep for the first time this season. The Greensboro Grasshoppers took all four games of their weekend series in North Carolina. It was the first time the Power has been swept in a four-game series since dropping back-to-back doubleheaders at Kannapolis last July.
n Several new faces joined the Power for this home stand. Right-handed pitcher Deivy Florido joined the club, as did infielder Connor Hoover. Outfielder J.R. Davis was also transferred to the Power by the Mariners on Tuesday. Davis previously had been with Seattle’s Triple-A team, the Tacoma Rainiers.