May 25, 2024

It was always going to take time for the Braves to help Jarred Kelenic realize his full potential from the day they acquired him through trade.

This athlete was selected sixth overall in the high school draft. Before long, as a player in the New York Mets organization, Kelenic was considered one of baseball’s best prospects. Then everything was turned upside down.

Edwin Diaz, an All-Star closer, was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Kelenic, who then took him to New York. Something like that can really knock a player’s confidence down, and Jarred Kelenic wasn’t helped by the move at such a young age. After being called up, he had a terrible time with the Mariners, batting just.168 with a.589 OPS in his first two seasons.

At last, Kelenic began to show glimpses of the enormous potential that everyone recognized in him throughout the previous season. But the difficulties returned, and the frustration followed. So much so that Kelenic would later suffer a several-month foot break as a result of kicking a water cooler. That proved to be the last straw for him in Seattle, whereupon he was voluntarily transferred to Atlanta in what amounted to a glorified salary dump.

With the number of Braves success stories involving buy-low scenarios, it was kind of assumed that Kelenic would learn in his new home, where he won’t feel like the man. He was one of the Braves’ top offensive players in the first few weeks, but as the summer approaches, many of the same problems that dogged him in Seattle have suddenly surfaced.

 

Red-hot Jarred Kelenic gets first start for M's against left-handed pitcher  | The Seattle Times

Jarred Kelenic has struck out twenty times in his last seventeen games while only managing nine hits and three walks. During that time, he is only hitting.177 with a.418 OPS, one extra-base hit, and no home runs. Similar to what happened with the Mariners, the majority of his problems have been with breaking pitches, especially the slider.

This season, Kelenic has encountered 58 sliders and has not yet recorded a hit. In comparison to the offering, he is whiffing more than half the time and has a projected slugging percentage of just.118. He’s never had trouble hitting the heater, but he’ll never be more than an ok hitter in the major leagues unless he begins to make more consistent contact against breaking pitches.

Not that Kelenic isn’t capable, mind you. Kevin Seitzer, the hitting instructor for the Braves, has worked his magic on players with far less potential. However, as I mentioned at the outset, this was always going to be a process, and it might not even be completed this year. Positively, compared to what the Braves have had at left field in recent years, Kelenic may be the best defensive left fielder in the National League.

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