Mariners invite Kelenic, Rodriguez to camp
The Mariners' future success depends on their farm system. The organization is about to get close look at where the stars of its system currently stand. Seattle extended non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training to No. 9 overall prospect Jarred Kelenic, No. 15 Julio Rodriguez and No. 35 Logan
The Mariners' future success depends on their farm system. The organization is about to get close look at where the stars of its system currently stand.
Seattle extended non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training to No. 9 overall prospect
This isn't the first time the trio has been a step away from the Majors. All three prospects participated in the Mariners' alternate site at Triple-A Tacoma last year.
Kelenic is the highest-ranked prospect in the group, though only by a smidge over Rodriguez. The 21-year-old outfielder is a potential five-tool star as he showed in 2019, when he hit .291/.364/.540 with 23 homers and 20 stolen bases over 117 games across three levels. His ascent to Double-A Arkansas during that campaign likely would have meant a return to the upper Minors in a normal 2020 and perhaps even a Major League debut, if not for the shortened 60-game campaign at the top level. Kelenic's combination of power, speed and ability to play in center could make him a Major League option early this upcoming season, and the M's are prepared for all contingencies with the 2018 sixth overall pick.
"I think anything between Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues is a realistic conversation for parts of 2020,” director of player development Andy McKay told reporters during the Mariners' Virtual Baseball Bash this week. “Our focus and my focus with Jarred has always been, we all know where this is headed. It's about being where his feet are embracing the grass and finding a way to get better wherever he is. I think he's done that. He did it last year very well.
“I think it'll reveal itself in Spring Training. I think he'll show up and begin to answer that question a little bit for us.”
Rodriguez's timeline is only slightly behind his fellow outfielder's, but his ceiling is just as high. The 20-year-old slugger is known for tremendous power potential and an impressive hit tool. With a plus arm, he could work well in center or right, though the latter seems more likely with Kelenic also in the pipeline. His time at the alternate site was limited by a left wrist fracture, but he played in 18 games for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. Having finished 2019 at Class A Advanced, Rodriguez seems ticketed for Double-A or Triple-A to open 2021.
Gilbert remains the top pitching prospect in the Mariners system nearly three years after going 14th overall in the same Draft as Kelenic. The 23-year-old right-hander can throw in the mid-90s with his fastball and also receives above-average grades on his slider and overall command. The Stetson product posted a 2.13 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 165 strikeouts and 33 walks over 135 innings across three levels (topping out at Double-A) in his one season of Minor League ball in 2019.
The other Top-100 prospects in the M's system -- Emerson Hancock and
The remaining Seattle non-roster invites are: pitchers
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.