Black MiLB Players #10: Julio Rodríguez

Julio Rodríguez is the best Black prospect in Minor League Baseball currently. He is an immensely talented Afro-Latino outfielder who can hit for average & power to pair with a great corner outfield glove and an above-average throwing arm.

Background + Path to Professional Baseball

Julio Rodríguez is a twenty-year-old outfielder in the Seattle Mariners organization from Loma de Cabrera, a small town of 20,000 in the Dominican Republic. Rodríguez noticed that he was really good at baseball around 14–15 because most of the guys he played baseball with were older than him and getting signed by MLB organizations. He trained with Quico Peña, who has trained a lot of other international prospects from the Dominican Republic. The Mariners discovered the talented outfielder at a showcase when he was fourteen years old, and as he approached eligibility (Have to be 16 or older by the start of the signing period) to be signed as an amateur free agent he was deemed one of the best international prospects in his J2 class.

Rodríguez agreed to a contract to become a professional baseball player with the Seattle Mariners on the very first day of that year’s J2 Signing Period, receiving a 1,750,000 dollar signing bonus as one of the premier foreign-born teenage prospects in his class. Rodríguez was the subject of a lot of hype from various evaluators throughout the realms of baseball due to his ability to hit for contact combined with massive raw power. He was immediately labeled as one of the Mariners’ top ten prospects, and since then has held a massive amount of pedigree within the various realms of baseball.

He began his professional career at the age of 17 years old in the Dominican Summer League in 2018, playing all but one of 60 games during the season and winning the MVP award in that league. There were individuals who thought that the teenager was already advanced enough to face Class-A pitching based on the ability to hit for average and power that he frequently put on display. Rodríguez has replicated a similar level of performance at every level he has played at so far. The Afro-Latino wunderkid put up a .293/.359/.490 slash line in 295 plate appearances(PAs) at Low-A, a .374/.447/.637 slash line in 206 PAs at High-A, and is running a .312/.439/.473 slash line at Double-A currently.

Player Profile

Julio Rodríguez is is an outfielder that bats and throws right-handed, is 6'3'’, and weighs 225 pounds. He is equally athletic as he is massive, being able to play all three outfield spots comfortably but primarily profiles as a right fielder.

He has a lightspeed fast swing powered by quick hands and strong wrists to go with an innate ability to rotate his hips and use his core/lower body to drive the ball. He holds his hands near his head before bringing them into hitting position, and when he swings with a swing path similar to hitters like Mike Trout and Ronald Acuña Jr. two fellow righty outfielders who get the most out of their top tier athleticism in the batter’s box. He has an excellent ability to make contact, never posting a batting average below .293 across a little over one thousand plate appearances he has accrued so far in his MiLB career. His strikeout rates hover between the mid-teens and very low 20s but that is mostly due to a swing-driven approach.

Julio Rodríguez’s MiLB stats, via FanGraphs

Throughout his tenure in the minors, Rodríguez has made approach tweaks that have helped him draw more walks and potentially made him above-average in another facet of the game. To exponentially improve his walk rate after a work stoppage that lasted over a year and some change while being one of the youngest players in the leagues he is playing in is a huge green flag. But wait there is more: making the jump the Double-A at twenty years old and increasing his walk rate by another third is a surefire sign that Rodríguez is extremely advanced for his age. He frequently makes effective adjustments and performs in the midst of changing things, which is a sign of maturity and intelligence.

Rodríguez has an approach that is oriented around pulling the ball and going the opposite way. He mostly hits groundballs and line drives, as he has yet to truly tap into his immense raw power and lift the ball more often. Despite this, his Home Run to Fly Ball ratios, BABIPs, and ISOs at every level he has played have been above-average, as is the amount of extra-base hits he has accrued so far as a pro.

He is not the best runner out the box on a jailbreak, especially since he is a righty although underway he moves very well. He is a competent baserunner and will swipe ten bags a year. In rightfield, he runs great routes and can make all of the average plays, and has an above-average arm to go with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if J-Rod was a solid everyday corner outfielder that could potentially be a Gold Glover.

Conclusion

Rodríguez is lauded by the Seattle front office, evaluators on the outside looking in, writers, fans, etc. for his wonderful personality and personability. He quickly picked up English and is praised for his work ethic and intelligence. Even as a star who has had eyes on him since his early teens, he is a very outgoing open book that is not afraid to mingle with people in person and on social media. He’s going to capture the attention of those who are sleep one way or another because I fully expect this man to take advantage of all the exposure he can get if he reaches the superstar potential he has shown. He checks all the boxes for an above-average player that fans will love in Seattle, and he is the top prospect amongst an interesting group the Mariners brain trust has compiled.

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I use this blog to cover Black baseball players from all over the African diaspora in MiLB & MLB and review TV series, films, novels, comic books, anime,. etc.

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Patrick Ellington Jr.

Patrick Ellington Jr.

I use this blog to cover Black baseball players from all over the African diaspora in MiLB & MLB and review TV series, films, novels, comic books, anime,. etc.

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