Seattle’s Best: Julio Rodríguez is on his way

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Credit: Sporting News

Coming into the 2022 season, Julio Rodríguez was Seattle’s No. 1 prospect. He was a top 3 prospect in MLB.com’s Top 100 and hit .419 with a 1.310 OPS through 12 spring games for the Mariners. Forget the wins and losses, the guy who is only 21 years old is already putting up historic numbers for all you number nerds and geeks.

And forget that mediocrity keeps the Mariners out of contention because Rodriguez has just shown up. This season, the story is about a young phenom and his quick rise. You may not know much about him, but you surely can’t miss his presence as he’s giving the Mariners a glimpse of what his future could potentially look like in Seattle with a historic start to his promising career.

Seriously, is there anybody as exciting as J-Rod right now?

He’s an absolute stud. He’s a rare breed of a player. He’s a wondrous talent.

And, right now, for their own good, the Mariners pretty much need Rodriguez to keep having his otherworldly and truly amazing first half. For the future to be the foundation of consistent winning, the Mariners have to make sure he’s an instrumental piece of the club’s long-term plans. They love his big bat, his strong arm, and his wild energy. Especially because he’s a fun kid providing a big boost to the club with his exuberance.

In just his rookie season, Rodriguez is the emerging face of baseball in Seattle, already a blossoming star locking up the AL Rookie of the Year award. It’s hard to believe he became the fastest player to reach 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases, doing so in just 81 games played. It is an insane feat that puts him in elite company with Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodríguez, two Mariners legends. It’s outstanding, it’s sensational, and he has shown enough potential to have Seattle excited about what’s to come. The excitement he brings to the game has endeared him to the fans and the city.

The Mariners player with the most hype has lived up to it, shown out, and certainly shown what he’s capable of doing in the years to come. They now have a stud who can hit mammoth homers, steal a lot of bags with his speed and aggressiveness on the bases and provide a highlight reel of unbelievable catches in the outfield. He has an impressive rookie-of-the-year resume, yet there’s so much room for improvement. He has shown flashes of greatness, but he’s still growing. He has demonstrated that his raw power is a complete set of tools, but he’s still evolving.

There’s no question Rodriguez is having arguably the greatest rookie season ever. After he clobbered a 429-foot blast on Monday, it’s legitimate to regard him as the best rookie in baseball. These Mariners, more fun to watch with Rodriguez in the lineup, are something indeed, thanks in large part to what he’s been able to do. This is quickly becoming his team. This is indeed Rodriguez’s time to shine, and if he keeps this up, the Mariners will be watchable and interesting.

He’s a blockbuster. He’s box office. He’s a superstar.

Seattle Mariners #44 Julio Rodriguez. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

The baseball world is seeing a slugger’s power tools, a defensive outfielder’s glove, and a speedster’s blazing speed on the bases. Is anybody paying attention? This is good for the Mariners and where they could be possibly heading, the direction. Rodriguez has a long way to go before his place in Mariners history is secured but he’s already on his way. The hope now is that he can help carry them back to contention which would be felt for a team that has the longest active playoff drought at 20 years.

Even though he looked spectacularly bad in his first month in the majors, he has since looked like the highly touted player he was projected to be. When it appeared he was going through growing pains, Rodriguez was getting zero help from umpires behind home plate. In his first 12 games, he had a .136/.208/.159 slash line with an OPS of .367. It wasn’t a great start to begin the season. But Rodriguez has been able to be consistent and strung together something since May.

Rodriguez’s abilities have everybody buzzing, but it’s no surprise that his skill level is through the roof. That he’s putting together the best rookie season thanks to his discerning eye and incredibly good contact, he’s making a strong case for an All-Star selection. Time will tell, but he certainly deserves an MLB All-Star nod. It feels a lot like Rodriguez in the way he plays and can keep building on the progress he’s made thus far.

The rare superstar mix of gap-to-gap power and the display of athleticism earn him not only a spot on the All-Star roster but makes him a starter in what is a popularity contest. The body of work speaks for itself. He’s already been the AL rookie of the month in consecutive months. He was the AL player of the week last week. That’s what distinguishes him from all the rest of the rookies. He is truly one of a kind. There’s no denying it. And all that he has done would, quite simply, help his case to win AL Rookie of the Year.

As his numbers have increased, he’s unquestionably in a tight race with Houston’s Jeremy Pena and Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. It’s far too soon to know how all of this will turn out, and who will win the personal award. But what we do know by now is that Rodriguez is a master of putting the bat to the ball. What we also know is that he’s playing like an All-Star at such a young age.

That’s scary.

He’s that damn good.

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