By Jerry Del Priore
It was a departure from the norm for the New York Mets, as they selected Wisconsin high school outfielder Jarred Kelenic with their first pick (sixth overall) in the 2018 MLB amateur draft Monday night.
New York has taken college players with their last three of four top picks in the June draft: pitchers David Peterson (20th–2106) and Justin Dunn (19th-2016), and outfielder Michael Conforto (10th—2014).
The interesting thing is the six-foot-one, 190 pounder’s high school team’s schedule didn’t begin until late May because of inclement weather. Kelenic elected instead to get his baseball in with summer travel ball and USA Baseball teams. So, he never played high school ball for his high school—Waukesha West.
Nevertheless, Kelenic is a talented prospect because of his five-tool potential, most notably of which is his advanced bat. Add in his speed, and you have a nice skill set for an intriguing ball player. In fact, several baseball insiders considered him to possess the best power-speed combination in the draft class.
Kelenic, a University of Louisville-verbal commit, was Team USA’s top hitter in 2016 and helped lead them to their second consecutive 18U gold medal in 2017.
Defensively, Kelenic views himself as a pro centerfield in the future due to his swiftness, instincts and arm strength.
Intangibly speaking, you have to like his positive attitude (he said wants to be a Hall of Famer one day) and eagerness to improve all aspects of his game, even partaking in hot yoga once a week to increase his flexibility while decreasing the likelihood of injury.
Because of limited outdoor playing time heading into the draft, Kelenic parallels current Met outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who played legion ball as a teen in frigid Wyoming and is coming into his own and enjoying a fine season with New York.
Therefore, Kelenic, who will be 19 in two months, is believed to have a high ceiling, and the work ethic to reach his full potential.
Click the link to view Kelenic’s sweet swing: https://youtu.be/ExSMG-0AY0w.