The AquaSox’s Cesar Izturis Jr. throws to first base during a game against the Volcanoes on June 21, 2019, at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The AquaSox’s Cesar Izturis Jr. throws to first base during a game against the Volcanoes on June 21, 2019, at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

AquaSox shortstop embraces MLB lineage

Cesar Izturis Jr., the son of 13-year MLB vet Cesar Izturis, is a favorite in the Everett clubhouse.

Everett AquaSox infielder Cesar Izturis Jr. has met several baseball legends in his young life. From Alex Rodriguez to David Ortiz to Albert Pujols to Vladimir Guerrero, he has conversed with some of the premier talents of the 21st century.

But to the 19-year-old, none of them compare to a 13-year major-league journeyman.

And for good reason. That player is his father, Cesar Izturis. The elder Izturis played for nine different big-league teams from 2001-13 and his son idolized him along the way, tagging along with his dad to the clubhouse whenever he could.

“He always wanted me to go to the stadium and hang out with him,” Izturis Jr. said. “My dad is my hero. He’s someone that I look up to everyday. Someday I want to be like him. Or better.”

Although Izturis was more of a baseball nomad than a franchise cornerstone, that’s still a lofty goal for Izturis Jr. His father was a career .254 hitter who played primarily shortstop, where he racked up 13.2 defensive WAR — Wins Above Replacement — over his career.

In his brief pro career, Izturis Jr. has shown the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He’s a .246 hitter over three minor-league seasons, but has displayed strong defensive abilities at shortstop.

“Obviously he’s a guy that can really defend in the middle of the diamond and those guys don’t grow on trees,” Mariners director of player development Andy McKay said. “He’s going to play for a long time with that skill alone and right now our focus is really on his body and getting him as strong as we can and getting some weight on him throughout a long season, because we feel really confident he can play shortstop.”

With strength may come more success at the plate. Izturis Jr. owns a .233/.307/.278 slash line in 27 games with the AquaSox after hitting just .215 in 38 games with Low-A West Virginia this season.

While the strength is expected to come with maturation, the AquaSox are working on refining his approach at the plate.

“He loves to play, he loves to hit, he wants to hit and he wants to be the guy every at-bat, but sometimes he feels the only way he can be the guy is to get a hit, which causes our players to swing at pitches that they shouldn’t be trying to hit,” Everett hitting coach Joe Thurston said. “Not every pitch is designed for you to hit. It’s trying to get him to understand what type of role you have on this team and he’s more of a table-setter type of guy, where he’s going to be getting on base for the table clearers. He’s not going to be a middle-of-the-order, table-clearer type of guy. We just need him to understand what he is, control the zone and swing at pitches he should be swinging at.”

One of Izturis Jr.’s assets on the AquaSox is his personality. He was described as a locker room favorite by McKay. On long bus rides or in the clubhouse before games, there’s a decent chance Izturis Jr. is blasting the latest hit song from Latin America, organizing a card game or simply just conversing with his fellow teammates.

“He’s an infectious kid,” said Carson Vitale, who is serving as the AquaSox manager after the departure this week of Jose Moreno. “He has a bright future ahead of him. He’s someone you genuinely like being around and that means a lot to a clubhouse.”

It’s something that comes naturally to Izturis Jr.

“I was born with that, you know. I think it’s been in my blood,” he said. “It’s passion, it’s the love … of baseball. I can spend 24 hours on the field and just take ground balls.”

That insatiable passion for the game was developed in Izturis Jr.’s early years while growing up in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. When Izturis Jr. was 7, and his father played part of the 2006 season for the Chicago Cubs and he moved to the Windy City.

Izturis Jr. traveled all around the country with his father during the ensuing summers. The youngster reveled in American culture and was bilingual — English and Spanish — by a young age.

But Izturis Jr. moved back to Venezuela before starting high school in the United States in order to sign as an international free agent and start his professional career sooner.

Emilio Carrasquel, a long-time Venezuelan scout for the Mariners who’s most famously signed Felix Hernandez, discovered Izturis Jr. in 2015 and invited him to a showcase in the Dominicans Republic to put him in front of the Mariners’ brass.

When the 2016 international scouting period began, Seattle signed the 16-year-old Izturis Jr. to a contract, 20 years after his father was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996.

The Mariners’ organization fits Izturis Jr. like, well, a glove.

“It’s been perfect. I mean, this team, this franchise is more than family, ” Izturis Jr. said. “We talk more about trusting the process. It’s been very great. … I love it here.”

Izturis hit .269/.331/.305 in his first professional season for the Mariners’ Dominican Summer League team in 2017. He appeared in five games for Triple-A Tacoma and one game each for Double-A Arkansas and Everett last year, but spent most of his first season stateside with the Mariners’ affiliate in the Arizona League, where he hit .245/.304/.298.

Izturis Jr. started the 2019 season at West Virginia, where he struggled at the plate but said he learned a lot defensively under manager Dave Berg, a former major-league infielder with the Marlins and Blue Jays. Izturis Jr. also has worked extensively this year with Vitale and Perry Hill, the Mariners’ infield coach.

Of course, no advice he receives trumps his father’s.

During their nightly conversations, the eldest Izturis routinely poses a question: “What did you learn today?”

Those thought-provoking conversations are often the highlight of Izturis Jr.’s game days.

“He’s my best friend, he’s my dad, he’s my hero, he’s my coach,” Izturis Jr. said. “He’s been everything to me.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason runs a drill during practice at the NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Wednesday, July 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Injuries could open door for Eason to start for Colts

The former Lake Stevens star is taking reps with the first team with Carson Wentz out indefinitely.

Lake Steven's Trayce Hanks makes a catch for a touchdown during the Cougars Championship Passing Tournament at Lakewood High School on Saturday, July 31, 2021 in Arlington, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GALLERY: Lakewood hosts annual 7-on-7 football tournament

Some of the top schools in the region came out for the event, which included the popular lineman challenge.

Hadyn Fluery, a defenseman from the Anaheim Ducks, walks off stage after being introduced as a new player with the Seattle Kraken NHL hockey team, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, during the Kraken's expansion draft event in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Patterson: Can Kraken match success of Golden Knights? Maybe

Seattle’s roster may be as talented as the initial Vegas roster, but lacks additional future assets.

Xander Schauffele, of the United States, holds his gold medal in the men's golf at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
U.S. golfer claims gold, as bronze goes to playoff holes

Bellevue golfer C.T. Pan, who represented Chinese Taipei, won the seven-way playoff.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marlowe homers twice, AquaSox defeat Emeralds

Everett snaps a brief two-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over Eugene.

Runners pass the Olympic rings as they compete during the first round of the women’s 5,000-meter at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Friday in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Markovc finishes 20th in Olympic women’s 5,000 meters

The Glacier Peak High School graduate placed ninth in her heat and did not advance to Monday’s final.

Jackson's Ryan Contreras is welcomed by teammate Dominic Hellman after Contreras' home run Friday afternoon at Funko Field at Memorial Stadium in Everett on April 23, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Prep notebook: Jackson baseball star picked for All-American game

Also, 2 local high school wrestlers place at the USA Wrestling nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.

Silvertips’ Michal Gut fights Tri-City's Sasha Mutala for the puck during the game against the Tr-City Americans on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Import forward Gut to return to Silvertips for 21-22 season

The 2002-born center was not with the team last season due to virus-related travel restrictions.

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert celebrates during the second half of a men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game against UCLA, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Edmonds native Kispert drafted by Wizards at No. 15 overall

Former Gonzaga star Corey Kispert was selected by the Washington Wizards in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Most Read