The state of Wisconsin might sound seem like it shouldn’t be a hotbed for baseball given the climate, but there have been a number of outstanding players coming from the Badger State’s high school ranks of late. There was 2016 Dodgers first-rounder Gavin Lux, who made his big league debut in 2019 and Kelenic, who was taken by the Mets No. 6 overall two years later. Traded that offseason to the Mariners in the Robinson Cano deal, Kelenic jumped on a super fast track during his first full season, attending the Futures Game, reaching Double-A and finishing with a 20-20 campaign all while turning just 20 years old.
Kelenic was the best pure high school bat in his Draft class and he’s shown no problems transferring it to the pro game. He has a very advanced approach from the left side of the plate and consistently barrels up the baseball. He can drive the ball to all fields and his raw power showed up more consistently earlier than expected during his first full year, especially to his pull side. A physical specimen, he’s a plus runner who knows how to steal a base and that speed allows him to run down fly balls in center field.
Concerns about Kelenic’s ability to stay up the middle long-term have dissipated, though he does have a very strong arm that would work well in right field. And no one doubts, given his plus makeup, that he’ll maximize his very impressive toolset and join his fellow Wisconsinite Lux in the big leagues soon.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 60
Kelenic was one of the top high school hitters, if not one of the best pure overall bats, in the 2018 Draft class, one whose stock soared as the Draft approached and he heard his name being mentioned as a potential top 10 pick. It was the Mets who took the two-time U.S. national 18-and-under team member No. 6 overall, signing him for more than a million under pick value. The Mariners, who picked 14th, had brought Kelenic in for a pre-Draft workout and liked him so much, they made sure to get him as part of the return for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in December.
Kelenic's outstanding feel for hitting from the left side of the plate, with an advanced approach, was on display during his summer debut, when he earned a promotion from the Gulf Coast to the Appalachian League. He has a knack for barreling up the baseball with solid raw power some feel will eventually translate to above-average in-game pop as he matures. An above-average runner, Kelenic is a very smart baserunner who can steal a base. The Wisconsin prep product was a center fielder in high school and that's where he played during his pro debut with the Mets. While the jury is still out about his ability to stay there long-term, he does have the arm for right field should he have to slide over.
Kelenic is mature beyond his years and gets high grades for his makeup and work ethic, so making the transition to his new organization shouldn't be too difficult. He has the kind of offensive profile that could allow him to move a little more quickly than some high school hitters.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
One of the top pure hitters in the 2018 Draft class, especially among the high school set, Kelenic was one of the best bats for the U.S. national 18-and-under team for two years in a row. A no-doubt first-rounder as the spring started, his name started popping up in top-10 pick conversations and he became the first Wisconsin product to go that high when the Mets took him No. 6 overall, signing him for more than a million under pick value. Though Kelenic would have an impressive pro debut across two levels, the Mets packaged the young outfielder with Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak to Seattle in exchange for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in December.
Kelenic has a tremendous feel for hitting from the left side of the plate, showing a professional approach and the ability to barrel up the baseball. He has solid raw power and above-average speed, giving him the ability to impact the game in a number of ways. Kelenic played center field in high school, and the Mets sent him out in that spot during his pro debut, but scouts weren't sure he'd be able to stick there long term. He does have the arm strength to handle right field should a move be in his future.
Kelenic gets as much high marks for his work ethic and attitude as he does for his physical gifts. He made quick work of the Gulf Coast League and earned a bump up to the Appalachian League during his summer debut, perhaps a sign he could be an advanced high school bat that can move a little more quickly.