Jarred Kelenic is getting closer to Seattle.
A source told The Times that the Mariners on Tuesday promoted their 19-year-old top prospect to High-A Modesto in the California League, an advanced move for a teenager in his first full season of professional baseball.
Kelenic, a left-handed-hitting center fielder, was the first high-school player selected in the 2018 MLB draft (No. 6 overall) by the New York Mets. The Mariners acquired him over the winter as the centerpiece of the blockbuster trade of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, making Kelenic a central figure in Seattle’s “step-back” plan.
Kelenic (pronounced KELL-nick) doesn’t turn 20 until July 16.
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto and farm director Andy McKay have said they wouldn’t rush Kelenic’s advancement through the minor leagues — they would promote him only when it was clear he was ready.
And after a rough first week at Low-A West Virginia, Kelenic has made it clear.
As one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League, he has a .303/.391/.564 slash line in 49 games, with 11 homers, 13 doubles, three triples, seven steals, 25 walks and 45 strikeouts.
“His ability is just off the charts,” West Virginia manager David Berg said last week. “He can hit the ball from line to line. It’s a loud batting practice when he hits. And, you know what, he’s a competitive guy. He’s in there to win. He’s fiery. He’s what you want.”
Kelenic follows another top prospect, 6-foot-6 right-hander Logan Gilbert, to the California League. Gilbert, the Mariners’ 2018 first-round pick, was promoted from West Virginia to Modesto in late April, and in eight starts this season he has a 1.76 ERA with 59 strikeouts and just nine walks in 41 innings.