Arrivals of Kelenic, Gilbert Signal New Era in Seattleby Logan Lockhart May 14, 2021 0 comments
Despite the Seattle Mariners’ 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night, a new era officially began in the Pacific Northwest.
The big-league debuts of starting pitcher Logan Gilbert and outfielder Jarred Kelenic didn’t follow a typical Hollywood script, but the arrival of both top prospects confirmed the Mariners’ commitment to a youth movement and one that made them as relevant of a story as there was in Major League Baseball on Thursday.
The hurler gets his opportunity
Gilbert, MLB Pipeline’s 28th-ranked prospect prior to the start of the 2021 campaign, pitched four innings of five-hit ball while allowing four earned runs and striking out five on Thursday. The right-handed hurler threw a clean frame in the first, inducing weak fly balls to the top of the Indians’ lineup.
A native of Winter Park, Fla., Gilbert’s usual four-pitch mix saw limited usage throughout his first big-league start. Instead, he threw his fastball 60 percent of the time with no sight of the changeup.
“You’re not going to have your A-game every time out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after Gilbert’s debut performance. “I know he’s had sharper outings and sharper breaking balls. I thought his fastball was fine, a lot of life to it, but you have to have that secondary pitch.”
In the eyes of his manager, Gilbert’s consistent approach on the mound is already evident.
“You can see that Logan’s going to be a North-South guy,” he said. “He’s going to be at the top of the zone, and hopefully a little higher above it, and then take the breaking ball down below. He’s not going to be an East-West pitcher.”
Plesac overshadows excitement in Mariners lineup
The story of Thursday night’s game in Seattle was supposed to be about the injection of Kelenic into the Mariners’ lineup, but it wasn’t. That’s because Cleveland starter Zach Plesac no-hit the opposition through 7 innings, seemingly overshadowing the debut of the M’s top-ranked position player prospect. The Indians hurler took his bid with history into the eighth inning before shortstop J.P. Crawford lined a ball over the glove of infielder Amed Rosario for Seattle’s first base hit of the affair.
Kelenic, the fourth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 0-for-4 on Thursday, hitting at the very top of the Seattle lineup. The sixth overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft has consistently demonstrated his hit tool throughout his journey to the big leagues and became the first top-five prospect in baseball to see time at the Major League level in 2021.
“Jarred’s at-bats [had] a lot of excitement and a lot of anxiety going on,” Servais said. “I thought as the game went on he certainly calmed down, started working through some at-bats, and the last ball he hit, I thought he hit right on the barrel.”
The future is bright
Kelenic and Gilbert appear to be here to stay, especially when considering that the Mariners have bought an extra year of service time by delaying the debuts of the prospects into mid-May. Prior to playing in the outfield at T-Mobile Park, Kelenic hit .370 in 27 at-bats in Tacoma at the Triple-A level in 2021. His OPS mark climbed to over .1000. Gilbert, now 24 years of age, started in 26 games in the minors in 2019, posting a 2.13 ERA in 135 innings pitched with a sub-1.00 WHIP.
After retiring the side in order in the first inning on Thursday, Gilbert allowed two home runs over the next three frames, ending his night at 71 pitches. Kelenic, a former selection of the New York Mets, makes up an outfield core in Seattle that has star-studded potential. Joined by 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, Mitch Haniger, and top prospects Julio Rodriguez and Taylor Trammell, the future is bright in the Mariners’ outfield.
Thursday against the Indians was the start of a new beginning, despite the loss.
Follow Logan Lockhart on Twitter @lgllockhart
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