Braves rookie nominated as a player with potential for a breakthrough campaign
Could thesee a breakout player in left field this year?
Since Rico Carty patrolled left field in the 1960s, the have not had a reliable left field option.
But this year, that might finally change.
After being selected by the New York Mets with the sixth pick of the 2018 MLB Draft, Jarred Kelenic was considered one of the league’s best prospects for the majority of his time in the minor leagues. After just one summer with the Mets, he was traded to Seattle in the Robinson Canó trade, and he debuted at No. 56 on the 2019 “Top 100 prospects” list.
Kelenic shot up to No. 11 on the list following an incredible 2019 season in which he finished with a.291 batting average, 31 doubles, five triples, 23 home runs, and 68 RBI. Kelenic, who was rated as the MLB’s No. 4 prospect, eventually made his Seattle Mariners debut in 2021.
There were enormous expectations for Kelenic. Expectations and pressure have the power to either break you or mold you into a better version of yourself. What will happen if you encounter a difficult stretch? Baseball is played. It’s the world’s most humble sport. You will experience days when you perform flawlessly and days when you perform poorly. What’s your approach to the grind?
Expectations and pressure have the power to either break you or mold you into a better version of yourself.
With a.181 batting average in 2021 and a.141 batting average in 2022, Kelenic finished below the Mendoza line in both seasons. The Mendoza line, which stands for SS Mario Mendoza’s.200 batting average—if you didn’t know—is named for Mendoza, who missed the mark in five of his nine MLB seasons. It so happens that during one of those four seasons, he was a player for the Mariners.)
With his back to the wall, Jarred found himself under attack from the same fan base that had previously put so much pressure and expectation on him. His rapport with the front desk had diminished. Despite all the obstacles in his way, he made a strong comeback in 2023.
Like it was 1984 and his name was Phil Collins, Kelenic came out swinging Against All Odds. He was in the 91st percentile for sweet spot percentage and sprayed the ball all over the yard. Pitch after pitch was coming out of his mouth faster than ever.
That was, until he broke his foot barreling up a water cooler in the dugout and spent two months on the injured list.
Hey, this is nothing new to Braves fans. Huascar Ynoa punched a bench and broke his hand—that is, except for us.
After his 2023 season was cut short due to that injury, Kelenic was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He was granted a fresh start, free from the pressures and expectations he had encountered in Seattle. Because of this, Mark Bowman of MLB.com believes Kelenic is ready for a breakthrough campaign.
With a fresh start in Atlanta, Kelenic will start at left field for the Braves. He can return to baseball’s fundamentals. He can rekindle his passion for the game. Though it may sound cliche, when you are enjoying yourself, you play baseball at its finest. In Seattle, Kelenic was not enjoying himself.
He’ll play looser and more assuredly now that he’s in Atlanta and among players like Michael Harris, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna Jr.
According to early Fangraphs projections, Kelenic is expected to produce more than Eddie Rosario, but he won’t necessarily “break out” with star-level output. However, those should probably be updated because they were completed when Kelenic was anticipated to share time with Vaughn Grissom, who has since been traded.
Let’s hope Kelenic has a fantastic 2024.