Julio Rodriguez: Mariners 2021 Minor League Player Of The Year
Julio Rodriguez attended his first-ever Mariners game at T-Mobile Park on Oct. 1. And as sellout crowds packed the stadium for the club’s playoff push, the prized 20-year-old outfielder envisioned himself playing in a similar atmosphere in Seattle soon.
“I couldn’t stop thinking what it would be like just stepping on that field with 40,000 Mariners fans in the stands,” Rodriguez said. “It would be a dream come to reality.”
That reality could be just around the corner for Rodriguez, one of the top prospects in baseball.
Rodriguez continued to showcase his advanced hitting and prodigious power this season, both at High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas. He batted .347/.441/.560 across both levels and blasted 13 home runs in 74 games.
He finished second among minor league qualifiers in batting average, third in on-base percentage and seventh in OPS.
Rodriguez also played several stretches with the Dominican Republic national team, helping lead his club to a bronze medal in the Olympics, the country’s first-ever medal in baseball. He batted a team-high .417 in Tokyo.
“What he did on the field and off the field (this year) was incredibly impressive,” Mariners farm director Andy McKay said. “And the way he went about his business in Everett, in Arkansas and in Japan for the Olympics is just everything that we want in a person and a player.”
After returning from the Olympics, Rodriguez closed the season on a tear. Over his final 32 games with Arkansas, he slashed .395/.483/.565. He has hit .331 in his three-year minor league career.
“He dominates the zone well and he hits the ball very hard,” McKay said. “He hits a lot of balls over 100 mph (and) over 110 mph. And no matter how you break it down, he’s been one of the top handful of minor league players in the last three years offensively.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Rodriguez also showed improved speed this year. He had 15 infield hits and 21 stolen bases in 26 attempts.
“I’m never gonna settle for what I did in the past,” Rodriguez said. “I’m always gonna try to improve and become better and better.”
— Prized shortstop Noelvi Marte, the No. 10 prospect in baseball, earned a promotion to High-A Everett for the final two weeks of the season. The 19-year-old Dominican spent most of the year at Low-A Modesto and slashed .273/.366/.459 with 17 home runs and 47 extra-base hits in 107 games across both levels. He had a three-homer game on Aug. 3 and finished the season with 24 stolen bases in 31 attempts.
— Lefthander Brandon Williamson was a strikeout machine this year with High-A Everett and Double-A Arkansas. Across both levels, the 6-foot-6 hurler fanned 37.4% of batters and averaged 14 punchouts per nine innings. The 2019 second-round pick out of Texas Christian posted a 3.39 ERA in 98.1 innings, with 153 strikeouts and 33 walks.