In the Kelenic of Time
Jarred Kelenic (SEA): 2-4, HR, R, RBI.
As Spring tends to do, it gave many of us hope. Specifically, hope that Jarred Kelenic wasn’t the washed prospect that had put up a 74 and 55 wRC+ in his first two major league seasons. He is only 23 with a lot more time to develop. And this offseason he took the time to tinker with his swing and showed off those improvements with a solid performance in Spring Training.
That is always nice to see but that still isn’t the regular season. Kelenic kicked off the year in his first eight games hitting .286 with three doubles, a couple of steals, and a 33% K rate. In game nine he came in to pinch hit in the seventh but remained in the lineup. In the ninth, he crushed a 414-foot, 111 mph bomb hitting the scoreboard in right field at Wrigley. The next game he walked twice, hit a 415-foot moon shot to the opposite field and laced a 410-foot double that could have been out in so many other parks. And then comes last night. He hit this ball into the second deck in straightaway center at Wrigley. Statcast has this ball travelling 482 feet. He also added a 108 mph single in his first at-bat of the day.
This man is on fire. And these home runs and hard hits don’t happen by accident. Kelenic is emerging and it will be fun seeing him in the mix as an excellent hitter in the Mariners’ lineup.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday
Max Muncy (LAD): 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI.
Muncy is well on his way to surpassing last year’s home run total of 21. He hit two shots over 106 mph for his fourth and fifth of the year. This was his second two-run home run game in his last two starts. His hard-hit rate is at 50% for the year which is solidly higher than his career of 42.8%. He’s walking at his normal rate but strikeouts have been an issue with a 35% K rate. These last two starts are a great sign for him.
Bobby Witt Jr. (KC): 3-5, 3B, R, RBI, 3 SB.
Witt got on his horse and snagged three bases and laced a triple in yesterday’s game against Texas. He has six hits in his last three games with four total stolen bases in that span. He’s raised his average up to .229 with a 43.6% hard hit rate after two hits over 100 MPH last night. He also has been limiting his Ks with a 17.3% strikeout rate.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ARI): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
I think today was the first day I actually realized Gurriel was on the Diamondbacks. And for some reason, I thought the Daulton Varsho and Gabriel Moreno trade was a straight swap, but apparently not. Gurriel was in there too. This was his first home run as a D-back and he was only a triple shy of the cycle. A few games ago he was only a homer shy of the cycle. Outside of those two games, he has not hit much, while only walking once. Hopefully, the new team adjustment period doesn’t take too long.
Wander Franco (TB): 3-5, 3 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.
I need to catch myself whenever I think Franco is finally breaking out. The kid is only 22. But he’s hitting as we all hoped he would now. He added three doubles to make it seven on the year alongside the four home runs he already has. Just like Wander, the Rays can’t be stopped, starting the season with 12 straight wins.
Alex Bregman (HOU): 1-3, HR, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB.
Bregman knocked in his second homer of the year and his second in his back-to-back games. After no hits in his first four games, with seven strikeouts in that span, Bregman has a 164 wRC+ with only three strikeouts and seven walks in the nine games since. Season total stats are so funny to watch at this time of year. He is still batting .196 with a 97 wRC+ despite that nine-game surge.
Carlos Pérez (OAK): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
In just his second start of the year, behind Shea Langeliers, Pérez had himself a day. He had three hits including two hard-hit balls and a 396-foot home run. This is his first season in the big leagues since 2018. He had quite the seasons in Triple-A with Oakland and Colorado in 2021 and 2022 respectively hitting 31 home runs each year. If he does take playing time away from Langeliers we may have a Joey Meneses situation on our hands.
Brent Rooker (OAK): 2-4, HR, R, 3 RBI.
It’s fun when Oakland has a good game. That means I learn about new players I haven’t heard about before. Rooker has started in back-to-back games with Seth Brown out for a bit. He crushed a few balls with a 420-foot homer, a 107 mph single and a 385-foot flyout. All very promising to see. Rooker has some pop, hitting 28 home runs in Triple-A last year, and 29 in 2021. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit a few more while he has the starting job.
Tyler O’Neill (STL): 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB.
Our non-hustling friend broke free with his first combo meal of the season. He annihilated a 461-foot bomb to dead center for his second home run of the season. O’Neill seems to be needing to shake some kind of rust off with whatever happened to get him benched and only one extra-base hit prior to this game. He is looking for a bounce-back year after only playing in 96 games following his breakout in 2021.
Jorge Soler (MIA): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI, BB.
Soler is back again in my recap as he patiently waited a week to hit his next home run, this time a 417-foot homer in the eighth to tie the game. He also added a hard-hit double keeping his hard-hit rate above 50% for the season. As I said last week, if he stays healthy he’ll keep producing.
Eddie Rosario (ATL): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI.
Eddie Rosario hasn’t been himself since after the 2020 season. He has struggled a bit, adding injuries each year, but in 2022, he only played 80 games due to eye issues which he had surgery to repair. 2022 was the first year his K rate was above 20% since 2016 if that gives any indication of how he struggled with that issue. But he is back playing every day with Atlanta. He popped his first homer of the year adding two more hard-hit balls as well. If he hits closer to 2020 or 2019 he can put up solid numbers in this lineup.
Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)