Julio Rodriguez didn’t give the Mariners much of a choice. The team announced Monday that the 21-year-old outfielder, who is near-universally ranked among MLB’s top three prospects, has made its Opening Day roster. Hector Gomez of Z101 Deportes first reported the news a few minutes before Seattle’s formal announcement (Twitter link).
Rodriguez obliterated Cactus League pitching, appearing in a dozen games and slashing .419/.471/.839 with three home runs and four doubles through 34 trips to the plate. He tacked on three stolen bases in four attempts, also flashing his wheels when he circled the bases on an inside-the-park home run, and drew three walks against nine strikeouts.
The massive spring showing comes on the heels of a similarly explosive minor league campaign in 2021. Playing the entire season at age 20 — he turned 21 in December — Rodriguez split the year between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, slashing a combined . 347/.441/.560 with 13 home runs, 19 doubles, two triples and 21 stolen bases in just 340 plate appearances. (Rodriguez missed time during the regular season to suit up for the Dominican Republic in the Olympics.)
With just 46 Double-A games under his belt, the Mariners might’ve had a defensible case to keep Rodriguez down in the minors to begin the season had he shown any sign of struggles in camp. But with such a blistering performance in the Cactus League and perhaps in part thanks to the new Prospect Promotion Incentives in the 2021-26 collective bargaining agreement, he’ll instead leapfrog the Triple-A level entirely and get the chance to prove he’s ready to face the sport’s very best pitchers.
More to come.