With the No. 6 pick of the 2018 Rule IV Amateur Player Draft, the New York Mets selected Jarred Kelenic, an outfielder from Waukesha West High School in Waukeesha, Wisconsin.
Weight: 196 lbs.
MLB.com Tools Ratings (20-80 scouting scale)
Hit: 60 Power: 50 Run: 55 Arm: 60 Field: 50
Keith Law/ESPN: 6
From The Experts
Keith Law, ESPN: “He has a good, consistent swing that produces plus raw power, and he’s at
least fast enough to go out as a center fielder. I believe he’ll hit for average too, but it’s tough to
say that with confidence, given the poor competition he has faced this spring.”
John Sickels, MinorLeagueBall.com: “He’s universally considered one of the best pure hitters in
the class, with good feel for the strike zone and a mechanically-sound swing that he repeats
well. His hitting skills are quite polished, especially for a cold-weather bat.”
Jim Callis, MLB.com, on the Mets’ selection: “Kelenic is a high-upside selection, as he’s the
best prep hitter available and has developing power and a chance to stay in center field. One
of my favorite comps I got in this Draft was when a scout compared Kelenic to a more athletic
- Kelenic is the first Wisconsinite to be drafted within the top 10 selections.
- Much like Sandy Alderson’s first Mets No. 1 pick, Kelenic has not played baseball for his high
school team his senior year. Unlike Nimmo, Kelenic’s high school does have a team, but Kelenic
opted for a travel team and showcase events this spring.
- In April, Fangraph’s Kiley McDaniel reported the Tigers liked Kelenic so much they were considering
him for the #1 overall pick.
- During his MLB Spotlight feature on MLB’s coverage of the draft, Kelenic admitted to liking
Demi Lovato and sang a few bars.
The Mets got a great pick at No. 6 and one many believe will sign for under slot which should allow the team to take risks later in the draft. Nearly universal praise for Kelenic’s pure hit tool, current and future power, speed, and defensive ability. Some believe he will stick in center long-term and others think he might have to move to a corner.
Regardless of his future defensive home, the bat will play. Gets good marks for his bat speed and resulting exit velocity when it has been tracked.
While many high schoolers get the 5-tool label before they have fully grown into their bodies, scouts and draft experts believe Kelenic’s body has mostly filled out already. While this means one might not be able to project much added growth or strength, it also suggests the skill set now (which is five tools) will stick around as a professional.
Thoughts from Stephen
I am not a scout. I read a lot, I watch a lot of tape, and I compile information and try to make sense of it. By every indication this looks like an excellent draft selection by the New York Mets. I have some reservations, of course. He is old for a high school prospect, he faced very poor competition in a cold weather state in Wisconsin and his body does not have much room to grow (which denies us that ambiguous-yet-tantalizing notion of “projection”).
Despite those reservations, I absolutely love the swing. I love the make-up. The speed will play. The arm in the outfield will be elite. I have a feeling more scouts wanted to rate it a 65 or a 70 but failed to because of how seldom they assign that high a grade to a high school player for anything except raw speed.
The power will be good enough and, considering that youngsters typically develop that tool last, I believe we have not quite yet seen what Kelenic can truly do in that department. Lastly, I love how hard he hits the ball. Jarred Kelenic possesses excellent bat speed and seems to have a good sense at the plate. I like that combination a lot.
Lastly, and this is more subjective and ambiguous but bear with me here: He seems like a good kid with a strong work ethic and a competitive drive. This seems to be a theme under the Sandy Alderson regime. Out of this regime’s first overall picks, a group consisting of Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Justin Dunn, David Peterson and now Jarred Kelenic, each and every one of them got overwhelmingly high marks for work ethic, “coachability”, character, or all three. I read the words “high character guy” for all of them at some point, somewhere.
While being a hard worker and a good teammate does not win a championship, it does mitigate risk. And teams want to mitigate risk as much as possible with multi-million dollar, highly-visible and oft-critiqued investments. I get that. And I will bet anyone that the Rays have some (a lot? All of the?) regrets with the Matt Bush pick in 2004. And, for
those who value this sort of thing, guys like Kelenic are probably great in the clubhouse and endearing to fans.
I am not going to tell you that Kelenic will be “quick to the bigs”, that he is “projectable” or a “high-floor guy”. I often find these terms ambiguous and not indicative of what that scout or analyst really means. Usually projectable means they are raw. Or simply tall and have yet to fill out. Often times a “project player” is just young. No one can say with any certainty how long it will take Kelenic to get to the big leagues.
If he does well and dominates through every level in the system, it will be quick. If he doesn’t, it won’t. Regardless of his time to the bigs, Mets fans should not see the selection of a high school player as an indication the team is not trying to win now or soon. They took the player atop their board they thought they had the best chance at signing.
And I think they got a great player by doing so.