How good can Jarred Kelenic be for the Braves?

MLB: JUN 23 Braves at Yankees

After an impressive series win in the Bronx, the Braves failed to back it up by dropping a tight series in St. Louis following a double-header yesterday in which the two teams split. The Braves winning the first game, and the Cardinals taking the night-cap. It was another rather lackadaisical effort throughout the series from Atlanta’s offense, but it was to no fault of Jarred Kelenic, who has emerged as the new leader of the outfield with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Michael Harris II on the IL.

The 24-year-old had a day he might never forget on Wednesday, racking up six hits, including a homer, and four RBIs over the two games. Perhaps even more impressively, a lot of his damage came against left-handed pitching, which was really the big question mark surrounding Kelenic coming into the season and will ultimately determine whether he can become a permanent staple in Atlanta’s outfield for years to come, a role he’s been thrust into this season due to injuries.

However, the extra responsibility has only yielded better results. Since being moved into the leadoff spot, Jarred Kelenic is hitting .362 with four homers and an 1.040 OPS over his last 11 games. But going even further back, he’s hitting .324 with six homers and a .924 OPS dating back to the middle of May (30 games).

The peaks and valleys are to be expected from Kelenic. He’s been a streaky hitter early on in his career, but the hope before the season was that the stability of the Atlanta Braves organization, along with one of the best hitting coaches in the business in Kevin Setizer, would help squeeze every ounce of potential out of him. This is a former 6th overall pick, once regarded as one of the game’s top prospects and a potential superstar. Still just 24-years-old, I’m not sure anybody really knows what kind of player Jarred Kelenic can be if he puts it altogether.

At the very least, he’s proven capable of being a starter in Atlanta to this point. Which, considering the Braves gave up essentially nothing to acquire Kelenic and he’s under contract for pennies through the 2028 season, makes him one hell of an acquisition (Thank you, Seattle). However, what if this turns out to be so much more?

It wouldn’t be the first time Kevin Setizer got his hands on a player and completely changed the trajectory of his career. We’ve seen it from several other current Braves, like Travis d’Arnaud and Orlando Arcia. But Jarred Kelenic is on a different planet than those guys in terms of talent. He’s always had all of the tools to become an All-Star, and perhaps those pieces are beginning to come together in Atlanta.

Photo: Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire

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