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Out of Right Field: Mariners past, future on display Sunday

By Gene Warnick The Spokesman-Review

Mariners fans can get a glimpse into the future today.

And some goosebumps from the past.

No, we’re not talking about their game against the Oakland A’s, the last before the much-needed All-Star break.

If you’re tired of watching the M’s bullpen blow another lead, grab the remote and switch over to MLB Network at 4 p.m. for the Futures All-Star Game from Cleveland.

Outfielder Jarred Kelenic, right-hander Justin Dunn and first baseman Evan White, the Mariners’ Nos. 1, 2 and 5 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, are expected to participate.

Kelenic and Dunn were acquired as part of the offseason trade with the New York Mets for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. White was the Mariners’ first-round draft pick in 2017.

Seattle’s three representatives in the game are tied for the most of any major-league team. It also equals the Mariners’ highest total in the 21-year history of the event. They had three players in the 2013 game (Taijuan Walker, Ji-Man Choi and Brad Miller) and in 2004 (Felix Hernandez, Jeremy Reed and Shin-Soo Choo).

“I’m excited. We should have three,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’ve got a good minor-league system and some guys that are having really good seasons. I totally expected Kelenic would make it, but great for Justin Dunn and Evan White. We probably had a few others that could have made it as well.

“We have a lot of positive things going on down on the farm, and we should. We traded a lot of good players away to get some good young players. I’m anxious for those guys to eventually get here.”

Kelenic, the No. 6 overall pick by the Mets in the 2018 draft out of a Wisconsin high school, started the season at Low-A West Virginia, where he batted .309 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs in 50 games. That earned a promotion to High-A Modesto, where the 19-year-old is batting .265 with four HRs and 12 RBIs after overcoming a wrist injury. He’s considered the M’s best all-around prospect since Alex Rodriguez 25 years ago.

Outfielder Jay Bruce, acquired in the same deal with Kelenic and Dunn and since sent to the Philadelphia Phillies, recently spoke of Kelenic in an interview with Newsday.

“I’ll tell you what: They (the Mariners) really like him over there,” Bruce said. “He’s got every tool that you need to be a good player.”

That prompted this response on Twitter from a fan @MetsDepression:

“Hey, remember when the #Mets traded 19 yr old Jarred Kelenic - arguably the best prospect in all of baseball - for 36 yr old Robinson Cano, arguably the worst all-around player in the #MLB? That was a good deal, right @GMBVW (Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen)? Cano $24 mil this season; JK’s ENTIRE contract is 4.5.”

Dunn and White are both playing for Double-A Arkansas. Dunn, the No. 19 overall pick in 2016 from Boston College, is 5-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 15 starts for the Travelers. White, the 17th overall pick in 2017 from the University of Kentucky, is batting .296 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs for the Travelers. Dunn throws in the mid-90s, and MLB Pipeline considers White the best defensive first baseman in the minors.

This, M’s fans, is what general manager Jerry Dipoto’s “step-back” plan is all about. With little chance of overtaking the Houston Astros in the American League’s West Division with their aging roster and last-ranked farm system, Dipoto decided in the offseason to retool.

The Futures All-Star Game will provide a look, albeit brief, into what to expect come 2021.

As for those goosebumps?

Stay tuned after the Futures Game at 7 p.m. to watch “MLB Network Presents: The 1995 Mariners, Saving Baseball in Seattle.”

Narrated by Grammy Award-winning artist Macklemore, a Seattle native and lifelong Mariners fan, the documentary looks back at the team that helped keep major-league baseball in the Pacific Northwest.

There will be interviews with the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Joey Cora, Mike Blowers and Rodriguez, plus the hair-raising highlights of Edgar’s double into the left-field corner that scored Junior from first base to beat the New York Yankees in extra innings of the deciding game of the AL Division Series at the Kingdome.

A-Rod, the first to jump on Griffey after he scored the winning run, called it “the most excited I’ve ever been on a baseball field.”

The Mariners’ past and future on display in one day. Sure beats the present.

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