Finally, the Seattle Mariners’ top offensive prospects have given us a glimpse at what they’re capable of.
On Friday night, Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic came through with back-to-back 2-RBI extra base hits, leading the Mariners to a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the series opener in Seattle. For the two young outfielders gleaming with promise, these breakthrough moments couldn’t have come soon enough.
Rodriguez (21) and Kelenic (22) have both had slow starts to their seasons, but Mariners management hasn’t considered for a moment demoting either of the two from being regulars in the lineup; it paid off on Friday night, with Rodriguez lacing a hustle double to right center with the bases loaded in the 4th, then Kelenic following it up with a triple to deep center to drive in two more.
Ever since Seattle shipped All-Stars Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets for Jarred Kelenic (and others) in 2018, Mariners fans have waited patiently for a future where Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez (an exciting 18-year-old prospect at the time) would take center stage. It may take more time before we see Rodriguez and Kelenic take shape as the team’s top contributors, but as the old saying goes: “You can’t start a fire without a spark”.
Not to be lost in the excitement of the evening was Chris Flexen’s fantastic start on the mound, going seven strong innings while giving up only six hits, walking none, and striking out five. Flexen’s off-speed arsenal forced weak contact all night, and he’s beginning to look more like the pitcher that was arguably the best in Seattle’s rotation last season.