Jarred Kelenic, the first round pick of the Mets, was introduced before Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Pirates at Citi Field.
“It really hasn’t still sunk in yet even though I’m sitting here today,” Kelenic said at his press conference. “To hear your name called is something special and it reminded me of just all the hard work that got me here.”
The left-handed outfielder out of Waukesha West High School in Wisconsin was the sixth overall pick in the draft. He didn’t play for his high school, instead playing on travel teams. He also played for USA Baseball, and was the MVP of the U-18 team that won gold at the Pan Am Games in 2016.
Growing up in Wisconsin, he’s different than many Major Leaguers who played in warm weather in California, Florida and Texas.
“It was definitely hard playing in cold weather. It’s a lot of extra stretching, obviously,” Kelenic said. “But you try to just block it out, it’s just white noise. It’s still the same game, the bases are still 90 feet, pitchers are still throwing at 60 feet, six inches, so I really just tried to block out all that stuff and play my game.”
Kelenic is 18 years old and will turn 19 on July 16. For a reference point, he was born less than a week after Matt Franco’s classic walk-off single off Mariano Rivera during the 1999 Subway Series.
\As the Mets look to rebuild, close attention will be paid to the players down on the farm for the next few years. Most prognosticators rank the Mets farm system in the bottom third in baseball.
\Kelenic has had a strong start in the pros with the rookie-level Gulf Coast Mets. Over his first three games, he is 8-13, good for a .615 batting average, with one double, one triple and two RBI.
He was not surprised that the Mets selected him, as he had a number of meetings with team personnel including the mental skills coach and the area scout.
Kelenic arrived in New York City on Tuesday and was able to go around the city. “I went out to eat at this awesome Italian place, and then this morning, woke up and we went over to Times Square and ate at this awesome diner, too,” Kelenic said. “It’s very good, pretty expensive. It’s like two eggs was like 20 bucks. I really enjoyed it though. I’m from Wisconsin, so you don’t see buildings like that.”
The good news for Kelenic is that he can certainly afford it, after signing with a $4.5 million bonus. The Mets are hoping Kelenic’s major league career will one day be good news.