By Antonio Puesán
EVERETT, Washington (DPLbaseball.com) – MLB No. 5 prospect Julio Rodriguez is ready to continue to show his quality at any tournament.
Rodríguez will try to help the Dominican Republic national team get the last baseball ticket for the Olympics. United States, Israel, Mexico, Japan and South Korea have already qualified for the tournament and will run from July 28 to August 7 in Tokyo.
“It’s always good to do well on the field, but it’s wonderful when you have the opportunity to do it while playing for your country,” Rodriguez said, adding. “I’m lucky”.
He’s prepared for the second consecutive event, after an outstanding performance in the WBSC Americas Qualifer, when he led the event with 11 hits.
“It was impressive to see Julio take aggressive swings and hitting ball in the danger zone,” Mariners assistant general manager Justin Hollander told MLB.com in a text message. “It was loud on television. It’s a great stage as he tried to help the D.R. qualify for the Olympics, and it looks like he’s enjoying it. “
The Mariners have been raving about Rodriguez since signing him as an international free agent in 2017, and are impressed in small doses against MLB level, no matter how limited he was in the Cactus League.
“Playing in this tournament will help me a lot in my career, and grow physically and mentally,” Rodríguez said. “Being in a tournament with so much competition and quality will improve my own game, which is exactly what I am looking for at this point in my career.
Everything continues with what has been a stellar start to 2021 for the 20-year-old, who left Class A in Everett to join the Dominican Republic in pursuit of a dream to Tokyo Olympics this summer.
“The Mariners think this is the best for my development, but I’m not sure if that will speed things up,” he said. “The only thing I know is that I am playing for the Dominican Republic and I will continue to give it my all.”
When he left the West League Low A, 21 games, he was hitting .322 /.404 /.575 with five homers, a triple and 15 RBIs, with five stolen bases in 99 plate appearances.
“I’m taking it all in,” said Rodriguez, who will likely be promoted to Double-A in the next few weeks. “I am enjoying this incredible experience of playing in the Olympic qualifier and wearing the Dominican Republic jersey.”
Rodriguez is working his way through the Mariners’ farm system, with a promotion to Double-A at Arkansas likely after the All-Star Game.
The Mariners’ No. 2 prospect – and No. 5 in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline – hit two towering home runs in the WBSC Olympic qualifiers, leading the Dominican Republic to a 13- win. 3 over Nicaragua at Port St. Lucie, Florida in the final days of qualification.
And just as he left Everett to join the national team, in his first week of returning to Class A he was 20-of-7 with a home run and three doubles during last week’s five-game series against Eugene’s Esmeralds.
The talented outfield prospect was 24-11 in five games in the event, with two enormous home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
At the Class A level this season, Rodriguez is hitting .327 with six home runs, one triple and eight doubles. Leads all six Class A West teams in batting average and ranks fifth in on-base percentage (.415) and is the second in slugging percentage (.589). He has at least one hit in 22 of his 26 games.
When the 2017-18 international signing period began, Rodriguez was ranked No. 10 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 International Prospects list.
The Mariners were delighted to sign him for $ 1.75 million on July 2 and the outfielder quickly noted that he was one of the best players in the class by posting a .929 OPS at the Dominican Summer League in 2018.
Despite a broken left hand in 2019, he played a two-tier A-ball during his United States debut before playing in the Arizona Fall League.
He was playing well in Mariners summer camp last July when he broke his right wrist throwing when he was trying to slide to catch a ball in the outfield, though he recovered in time to have a few winter at-bats under his belt. Rodriguez has every chance of being a positive hitter with more power at the Major League level, he has worked very hard to improve his speed and he moves very well for his size.
J-Rod was a member of the Dominican Prospect League (DPL), an institution that has prepared prospects since 2009 before signing with MLB teams.
DPL is the premier prospect league for international amateur baseball players. Since its inception in 2009, DPL has had more than 600 signed players.
The league helps match young international fans for life as professional baseball players by providing consistent game throughout the year.
Many of MLB’s top international prospects are DPL’s alumni.
Gabriel Guerrero, Luis Liberato, Darling Cuesto, Noelvi Marte, Luis Veloz, Martín Peguero, Esmerling Mota, Philips Castillo, Ronald Rosario, Hersin Martínez, Carlos Vargas, Onil Pela, Leury Vargas and Wilton Martínez are other players in the Seattle organization who they also graduated from DPL.
Rodriguez’s most likely arrival in Seattle is probably early 2022; After all, he missed the entire 2020 minor league season due to the COVID-19 shutdown, and has been held back by wrist injuries for the past two years.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto says he’s not ruling out anything when it comes to the right fielder’s rise through the minors.