Jarred Kelenic says Mariners’ demotion to minors was ‘blessing in disguise’

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Jarred Kelenic’s name will always be remembered in New York. The Mets traded their top prospect for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in one of the most controversial moves in franchise history.

Now, Kelenic is making a name for himself in Tacoma, Wash. After a brutal start to his MLB career with the Mariners that included a 0-for-39 slump, the Mariners sent the No. 6 pick in the 2018 amateur draft to Triple-A on June 7, where he is working on the mental aspect of his game.

“Just understanding the controllables, the stuff that I can and can’t control,” Kelenic told MLB.com. “This game is one of the hardest games in the world. And when you’re at such a young age, with the best players in the world, you need to learn to not let results make you fluctuate how you feel. You’ve got to stay consistent. And as long as you do the things you can control really well, then the rest will all take care of itself.”

His new perspective has gone a long way. After starting his MLB career with a disappointing .096/.185/.193 slash line, Kelenic has returned to prominence in the minors, hitting .278/.362/.589 (.951 OPS) with seven homers, 21 RBIs, 16 strikeouts and 12 walks since his demotion.

“It wasn’t like anything I hadn’t seen before,” Kelenic said of his MLB promotion. “Everything there — I’ve seen the 98 mph fastball, I’ve seen a wipeout slider, I’ve seen all that stuff. It’s just, you’re in a place where everyone is extremely, extremely good.”

Kelenic called his demotion a “blessing in disguise” last month, and his sentiment is justified. While in Tacoma, Kelenic has been able to work on his weaknesses, like inside fastballs and low breaking balls.

“It was a lot of just on the edges,” Kelenic said. “It never came to the heart of the plate. But here, too, there’s pitchers that are throwing a lot of off-speed stuff away, and then pounding me in to get me off of it.”

At 45-40, the Mariners are still in the hunt, sitting just 3.5 games behind the A’s for an AL Wild Card spot. And perhaps a rejuvenated Kelenic can be the boost the Mariners as they continue their postseason push.

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