PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT: JULIO Rodríguez, OF, SEATTLE MARINERS
Julio Rodríguez, OF, SEA
Before the spring of 2019 I was standing in the front office of the Everett Aquasox talking with my contact about the upcoming season. I mentioned I played fantasy baseball, specifically dynasty and if there was anyone I should be paying attention to from our own farm season. Without hesitation he told me I needed to immediately start paying attention to a young outfielder named Julio Rodríguez. In the 3 years since I have, and am grateful to have been alerted to such a talent. He has everything: physically gifted with a strong mental makeup. He is always relaxed and while he makes everything look routine. Don’t sleep on his work ethic because his natural talent hides the fact that he works as hard as anyone.
Julio signed as a 16 year old in 2017 with a $1.75M signing bonus. There he toiled in the background until his debut in the Dominican Summer league the next year. 2018 showed why the Mariners had made him a priority in signing. He hit .315/.404/.525 with 27 xbhs out of 69 and 10/10 steals. In 2019 he got his first action in the states at the Mariners A- and High-A clubs. He played in 84 games, he had the same OPS (.929) over the whole season as he did in 2018 in spite of a left hand fracture that occurred. Obviously 2020 was a lost season and he fractured his wrist on top of it. He was able to heal in time to get some needed work in the Dominican Winter League.
His star was bright, but no one knew what he was going to be able to do last season. All he did was continue to add fuel to the fire that he was a generational talent. In 2 levels he hit .347/.441/.560 with 13 homers and was 21/26 in stolen base attempts. MLB grades him as a 65 overall with a 60 grade hit tool and 65 grade power. His swing is easy and he hits to all fields with power to hit it out without pulling the ball. He acknowledged that he needs to be better on the basepaths and has made that a priority (shown by his success in 2021). It makes him a true 5 category threat when he makes it to the Majors.
Going into this season, Julio is a consensus top 3 prospect along with Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt Jr., often coming out ahead of both of them. Dreaming about prospects can be challenging. For every Wander Franco, we have a lot of Jarred Kelenic types that struggle in their first taste of the big leagues. I don’t think we see that path with Julio. While I believe the Mariners play with his service time (assuming things don’t change much from the last CBA) I believe 2022 is when Julio becomes a household name among baseball fans. Young, good looking, infectious smile, and all the talent in the world my prediction is he ends the season as a 25 HR/15 SB player with great counting stats and an average north of .280. For the next few years (and hopefully beyond) I see a first round draft pick in redraft and someone who joins Soto and Acuña as a top 5 overall talent in dynasty. And if you don’t have him in dynasty, good luck getting him.