Everett-based fans who were hoping to see Mariners superstar prospect Julio Rodríguez in person, you’re out of luck...for now. The Mariners announced, as many suspected, Julio would not be returning from Olympic qualifying to the AquaSox, but instead will be moving on up to Double-A Arkansas.
Julio already had some High-A time under his belt when he was assigned to the AquaSox, after his promotion post-wrist-injury from Low-A West Virginia to Modesto, California. In Modesto, Julio transitioned seamlessly despite being one of the youngest players in the league, electrifying a Nuts team that had been middling all season and helping charge up a last-ditch run towards the playoffs. As dominant as he was—his final line for Modesto was .462/.514/.738—it came over just 72 plate appearances, and then after the long layoff where he only got work in at the alternate training site and playing against much more seasoned competition in LIDOM (Dominican Republic winter league), the Mariners sent him back to the level to both ensure he could repeat his performance and give fans in the PNW a little taste of J-Rod sunshine.
Julio continued to rack up hits at Everett; even while missing time to play with the Dominican Republic for the Olympic qualifiers he remained at the top of the league in batting average (.325), SLG (.581), and OPS (.992), and third in OBP (.410, and also, fun fact, 4 of the top 5 spots in OBP in the league are held by Everett players; the same is true of all other offensive categories). And at the Olympic qualifiers, he shone like a superstar as well, delivering on both sides of the ball with this key game-winning hit off Canada’s John Axford:
JULIOOOOOO WITH THE GO-AHEAD HIT OFF JOHN AXFORD pic.twitter.com/Q1kd2pDKsj— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) June 5, 2021
And this incredible diving catch in a game against Venezuela to help send the DR to the Olympics:
(That’s friend of the site Tyler Maun on the call, who DM’ed to say he had gotten a chance to meet Julio for the first time before this game and sent a message in ALL CAPS enthusing about how great he is and how pumped he is for Mariners fans. We’re pumped too, Tyler.)
Double-A will provide a stiff challenge for Julio, as he’ll be facing top pitching prospects like Cole Winn and Hans Crouse (TEX), Bryce Jarvis (ARI), Ryan Pepiot (LAD), Jonathan Bowlan (KCR), and Hunter Brown (HOU). In addition to that, he’ll have to face more advanced pitchers, many with a half-decade of experience on him, and as a right-handed power hitter, he’ll also have to face off against his home park, the righty-power-suppressing Dickey-Stephens. Hopefully Kyle Lewis, another righty power prospect whose numbers were dampened by the windy chill of DSP, has some encouraging words for Julio.
For those of you fretting that you missed your chance to see Julio in Everett: first of all, yes that’s a bummer, but there’s always Tacoma. Secondly, with Julio promoted, all eyes turn to the next star shimmering in Seattle’s far-off skies in SS Noelvi Marte, currently slashing close to a .300/.400/.500 line in Modesto and due for a promotion of his own. Marte is a very different personality from Julio—more reserved, more comfortable in his native Spanish—but he’s just as fun to watch on the field, with a lovely swing that produces both line drives and over-the-fence hits, and elite, graceful speed that turns doubles into triples. Marte’s bat has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the system this year, as he’s taken to stateside ball without missing a beat, and it will be exciting to see both these young players—Julio will be the youngest player in Double-A Central, and if/when Noelvi is promoted this season, he’ll become the youngest player in High-A—adapt to the challenges of their new levels and inch ever-closer to making their debuts at T-Mobile Park.