Julio Rodríguez

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Note: This page is for outfielder Julio Rodríguez who made his major league debut in 2022; for others with a similar name, click here.

Julio Yamel Rodríguez
(J-Rod)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 3", Weight 180 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Julio Rodríguez was one of baseball's top prospects in 2021, having already starred for the Dominican national team. He made his major league debut at the start of the 2022 season.

He was signed by Seattle Mariners scouts Kelvin Dominguez, Eddy Toledo and Tim Kissner. [1] He made his pro debut with the 2018 DSL Mariners, hitting .315/.404/.525 with 50 runs, 9 triples, 30 walks and 10 steals (never caught) in 59 games; he had six outfield assists to two errors. He tied for the Dominican Summer League lead in three-baggers, was 5th with 115 total bases (between Joerlin De Los Santos and Felix Valerio), ranked 7th in slugging (between Victor Heredia and De Los Santos) and placed 9th in OPS (between Jeferson Morales and Axel Andueza).

Rodríguez produced at a .293/.359/.490 clip with 20 doubles, 50 runs and 50 RBI in 67 games for the 2019 West Virginia Power and .462/.514/.738 with 19 RBI and 13 runs in 17 games for the Modesto Nuts. He missed almost two months when his left hand was fractured by a pitch from Jake Wong. [2] Despite missing a significant chunk of time, he still was third in the M's chain in RBI, behind Cal Raleigh and Jake Fraley. Baseball America rated him as the #2 prospect in the South Atlantic League, behind fellow Power outfielder Jarred Kelenic.

He hit .288/.397/.365 with ten RBI in fifteen games for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League. Baseball America rated him as the #8 prospect in baseball entering 2020, Baseball Prospectus had him at #10 and Major League Baseball listed him at #18. The consensus was obviously that he was an elite prospect. Unfortunately, the 2020 minor league season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. The teenager did get to play winter ball for the 2020-2021 Leones del Escogido but looked overmatched for the first time - .196/.297/.250, splitting right field with Gregory Polanco, a MLB regular trying to bounce back from rough times.

The Loma de Cabrera native entered 2021 even higher on the prospect lists. Baseball America now had him #3 in baseball (behind Wander Franco and Adley Rutschman, just ahead of Kelenic and Spencer Torkelson) [3], Baseball Prospectus did as well and MLB had him at #5 (between Kelenic and MacKenzie Gore). [4] He began the summer well with the Everett AquaSox.

He took a break from Everett to play for his homeland in the Americas Olympic Qualifier, the youngster in an outfield that featured two-time AL home run king José Bautista (age 40), former 200-hit man Melky Cabrera (36) and fellow M's farmhand Luis Liberato (25). He proved to be the team's top star, though, hitting third and starting in right. In the opener, he singled off Luis Cruz his first time up, then scored on a Juan Francisco hit for their first run; he had two runs in the opening win over Puerto Rico. Against event champion Team USA, he singled off Edwin Jackson and scored the tying run in the 6th but the Dominicans lost. He was 3-for-5 with two homers and three RBI in a win over Nicaragua. In the Super Round, he had three hits and three RBI to beat Venezuela and was 2-for-4 with a walk, run and a RBI to beat Canada to advance to the Final Olympic Qualifier. His 9th-inning single off former Rolaids Relief Award winner John Axford scored Gustavo Núñez with the last run in a 6-5 victory. He hit .458/.480/.708 with 7 runs and 7 RBI in 5 games, while playing error-free defense. He led the event in runs (one ahead of Liberato, Luke Williams and Roel Santos) and hits (11, 3 more than anyone else). He also tied for 4th in home runs, was second in RBI (two behind Francisco) and tied Liberato for 3rd in total bases (17). [5] It was a far contrast to Kelenic, who he had been long paired with, who was struggling mightily in his first taste of the majors. Following the D.R.'s win in the 2020 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament (in which he was a more mundane 1 for 10 with two walks and two runs) [6], he was named alongside Kelenic to play for the American League at the 2021 Futures Game, then appeared in the Tokyo Olympics, being part of the bronze medal-winning Dominican team. In all he played 74 games in the minors that season, hitting a sparkling .347/.441/.560 between the Everett AquaSox of the High-A West and the Arkansas Travelers of the Double-A Central. He scored 64 runs, drove in 47, and hit 19 doubles and 13 homers in what was basically half a season.

He was a center of attention in the Mariners spring training in 2022 the question being when exactly he would be making the jump to the Show. He was so impressive that a few days before the season started, the team confirmed that he had made the Opening Day roster. He started his major league career slowly, batting .206 and slugging .260 in April, but on May 1st he blasted his first major league homer and it was a no-doubter, a 450-foot bomb against Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins, part of a 3-for-4 game in a 7-3 win. In spite of having very good speed, he had never been much of a base stealer in the minors, until swiping 21 bags in 2021, but he was impersonating Rickey Henderson in the early going, being successful on all 9 of his steal attempts through 22 games to lead the American League. He was named the AL Rookie of the Month in May when he batted .309 in 28 games, with 6 homers and 17 RBIs. He won the honor again in June when he batted .280 with 7 homers, 16 RBIs and 22 runs scored. He was named to play in the 2022 All-Star Game and also took part in the Home Run Derby on July 18th, during which he belted 81 homers - more than anyone in the eight-man field - before losing the final round to Juan Soto. Still, his performance doubled his income for the year.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2022)

Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Martin Gallegos: "J-Rod electrifies with 81 HRs in Derby debut: Mariners' 21-year-old star puts on show before falling to Soto in finals", mlb.com, July 18, 2022. [1]
  • Hannah Keyser: "How Julio Rodríguez, the Mariners’ prized 6-foot-3 rookie, got fast and became MLB’s leading base stealer", Yahoo! Sports, May 17, 2022. [2]
  • Daniel Kramer and Jesse Sanchez: "J-Rod era starts in Seattle as phenom makes roster", mlb.com, April 4, 2022. [3]
  • Jesse Sanchez: "Meet J-Rod, MLB's next superstar", mlb.com, September 2, 2021. [4]

Related Sites[edit]