We continue to inch our way to the top of the list and we are reaching the potential All-Star tier of our list of Mariners prospects. Today, we discuss a teenager who has turned heads quickly in 2019.
That is right, coming in at number 3 on our list is 2021 Seattle Mariners starting right fielder, Julio Rodriguez. I know, some of you are shocked. Some may even be mad. “How could you put Julio at #3? He is the future.”
Well, he is number 3 in a really good system and he just barely missed number 2 by 1 point. And, for total transparency, we did our cumulative ranks right before Julio was promoted to Modesto, so none of that factored into our decision. But enough with nitpicking between the #3 and #2 spots and tearing apart our process, let’s talk some Julio Rodriguez.
The 18-year-old Rodriguez came to the US for his first crack at stateside minor league ball after giving Mariners fans a small taste of what he could do during Spring Training. He began the year in West Virginia and was off to a hot start before a hairline fracture in his wrist cost him nearly 2 months of action.
When he returned, Julio did what he always did: he hit. In his 67 games for West Virginia, he slashed .293/.359/.490 with 20 doubles and 10 home runs. Impressive, especially considering that he spent a few weeks getting back on track after his return.
Then, the Mariners promoted Rodriguez to Modesto and the hype train nearly flew off the tracks. In his brief 17 games stint with the Nuts, Rodriguez hit .462/.514/.738 with 11 extra-base hits in 65 PAs. Rodriguez nearly led a late-season playoff charge but the Nuts were eliminated on the final day of the season.
Stats are great, but they don’t tell us everything about a prospect. You also need to look at their tools. And thankfully, Rodriguez tools are incredibly tantalizing to look at. A 60-grade hit tool with 65 raw power (20-80 scale), make him one of the premier pure hitters in all the minor leagues. When he hits his prime, Rodriguez should have no issue hitting between .280-.300 with a .350+ OBP and anywhere between 25-30 home runs.
There may be more power too. Remember, Rodriguez doesn’t turn 19 until late December. At 6’4″, 225 lbs, he is pretty physically mature, but he could still gain muscle and size. But despite that size, Rodriguez runs well and should grade out as at least average speed (50-grade).
Most of Rodriguez’s growth will come defensively. He isn’t bad in a corner OF spot either. He has a strong arm and takes good routes to the ball and is usually accurate with his throws. Overall, Rodriguez will likely be a 55-grade right fielder with a 60-grade arm.
This blend of tools and age make Rodriguez a fascinating prospect. MLB Pipeline currently ranks him 27th in all of baseball (after having him unranked to start the year), and the buzz he has generated recently is the buzz only superstars make.
The Mariners absolutely love Rodriguez off the field as well. He is a tireless worker, a fantastic teammate, studies the game, and is fluent in English at just 18-years-old. You add all this up and it appears that the Mariners have a potential franchise changer in their system. To me, he looks like a young Justin Upton, middle of the order producer for most of the past decade.
Pairing him up with Kelenic could happen as soon as next season and if it does, look out for the Seattle Mariners in 2021.