Julio Rodriguez Q&A: Meet The Rising Mariners Prospect
Since returning from a hand injury last month, Julio Rodriguez has been an arrow up prospect in the Mariners system, recently jumping nearly 40 spots in our Top 100 prospects list. Rodriguez is hitting .288/.363/.463 with six homers in 46 games for the West Virginia Power in the South Atlantic League.
He sat down with Baseball America's Justin Coleman for a recent interview.
Justin Coleman: When did you start playing baseball, and at what point in time did you think you could make it a career?
Julio Rodriguez: So I started playing baseball since I was like 3 or 4 years old with my dad, it was a long time ago … when I realized that I could have a good career in this sport was when I was like 15 years old … like, I was thinking at that point, damn, I have some serious talent … I think I could make it. Yeah, that's what I thought.
Justin Coleman: So you signed in July of 2017. What was that day like for you and your family?
Julio Rodriguez: So that day, once the clock turned to 12 in the morning .. .I was wide awake! I was talking in a group chat with all of my friends and we were going to sign together that day. So I was so excited, my family was so excited; I couldn't even sleep at all that day. I swear to God I couldn't sleep at all. I was waiting for my Dad to get to Santiago so we can go together to Boca Chica to the academy … I couldn't sleep at all, I was so happy.
Justin Coleman: I know you were talking to a few teams at a showcase, and your agent then asked you which team you liked. You said Seattle, and he immediately responded that they would present you with a contract. What was that like?
Julio Rodriguez: Yeah, that was a really great experience for me. Because I was thinking about that team like, damn, this is a really good team for me. I feel like I can have a really good future with this team and when my agent told me that I was in shock. I was like no, that can't be. I was so excited!
Justin Coleman: So you spent some time in the Dominican Summer League and then came straight over into full-season pro ball here. What's that been like?
Julio Rodriguez: Its an adjustment, you know, different language … different people here. I think I can handle it pretty well to be honest, mostly because of my English. I speak really good English. I don't know how to explain it … its nothing that I can't overcome.
Justin Coleman: I know you broke your hand a few months ago. Was that your first serious injury? Also, what did you learn from that experience?
Julio Rodriguez: From that injury I learned a lot. In Arizona, a few months ago, I learned that these kind of situations are going to happen, but you need to stay focused and do whatever you can do to stay in shape so when you get back in the game you don't miss any time. That's the biggest part.
Justin Coleman: I know you had touched on this early, but what are some of the bigger differences between the United States and the Dominican Republic?
Julio Rodriguez: I would say the language obviously. But you know, in the Dominican, its kind of crazy (laughing) … fun but crazy. Yeah, it's crazy over there. I think there are a lot more rules and such here, that's probably the biggest difference.
Justin Coleman: Who has been your biggest influence and what have they taught you?
Julio Rodriguez: I think my biggest influence has been my father. As I mentioned earlier, I started playing with him when I was much younger, so, I think it was my father. He taught me everything. He helped me to be who I am today… like in baseball, my personality, everything.
Justin Coleman: What do you think of Seattle as an organization and what have they taught you?
Julio Rodriguez: They taught me that in baseball, you have to be a really good … hmm ... Its not just baseball. There are a lot of people out there that are looking up to you, almost like a superstar, you have to be a professional. They taught me how to be a good teammate, how to play hard, the best way to play the game … they are a really good organization to be honest. I'm really glad to be here.
Justin Coleman: Is there any player you model your game after?
Julio Rodriguez: You know A-Rod? That's a big guy right there. One of the best in the game—I like how he is in baseball both on and off the field. I like the way he is, I think that player was my role model. I like Trout too, he is great. In basketball, I like Giannis Antetokounmpo. He is my favorite player because of the way he plays … like … I try to take that from him in basketball and do the same in baseball. He is always hustling, playing hard, playing the game ... you can learn from wherever to be honest.
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Justin Coleman: What are some goals you have for the rest of the season?
Julio Rodriguez: (Laughing) Hmm... that's a secret! I got some secrets! After the season, I can tell you that I reached my goals. Stay healthy, that's the main thing.
Justin Coleman: What's the biggest challenge you've faced thus far and how did you overcome it?
Julio Rodriguez: My biggest challenge has been my injury thus far to be honest. And thank God I could overcome it. Now my hand is 100%. I can play 100%. It was my biggest challenge.
Justin Coleman: Did it require a lot of patience?
Julio Rodriguez: Yeah because at that point in the season, at the beginning, I was doing pretty well… so I got hurt, at that point, I was like damn, why me? My mom told me that everything happens for a reason. So I think that was my biggest challenge.
Justin Coleman: So you are known as a positive, happy-go-lucky guy. What has helped you to be like that?
Julio Rodriguez: Yeah I was always like that. I'm pretty happy, always laughing, having fun. That's what its all about! You have to enjoy everything you do.
Justin Coleman: Looking back at your time in baseball, what is the most important lesson that the game has taught you?
Julio Rodriguez: Oh my, that's a really hard one. Hmm ... That you have to be humble. In this game, you have to be humble. If you are too cocky and you believe you are the best and you think like you can do it all by yourself, I think that's not going to work out. You always need to embrace those around you … the moment, all that. If you are not humble in this game, it will humble you.