The J-Rod Show was in full swing this past week at Funko Field.
And so were the red-hot Everett AquaSox.
Highlighted by a spectacular series from highly touted prospect Julio Rodriguez, the AquaSox extended their win streak to eight games with a dominant six-game sweep of the visiting Tri-City Dust Devils. Everett outscored Tri-City by a whopping 65-16 margin in the series, including routs of 20-3, 15-1 and 13-3.
The AquaSox’s 20 runs on Sunday were their most in a single game since a 21-1 win over Salem-Keizer in 2009.
After after reaching the 15-run mark just three times over the previous eight seasons, Everett did so twice this past week alone.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the AquaSox (10-2) have scored 94 runs and allowed just 37. Everett’s plus-57 run differential is a staggering 34 runs better than the next-closest team in the six-team High-A West.
Here is The Herald’s weekly AquaSox update:
J-ROD PUTS ON A SHOW
Rodriguez showcased this past week why he’s one of baseball’s most prized young talents.
Rodriguez, considered the game’s No. 3 overall prospect by Baseball America, blasted five home runs in the AquaSox’s six-game sweep. The 20-year-old phenom from the Dominican Republic has homered in four consecutive games and is riding a 10-game hitting streak, including a streak of nine straight games with at least one extra-base hit.
Over the six-game series, Rodriguez batted .423 (11 for 26) with a .516 on-base percentage and a staggering 1.115 slugging percentage. He displayed his immense raw power throughout the week, highlighted by a mammoth homer on Friday night that he clobbered over both the high wall in center field and the netting behind that. He finished the series with eight extra-base hits and was named the High-A West player of the week.
Through 12 games this season, Rodriguez is batting .353 with a .441 on-base percentage, a .784 slugging percentage, five home runs, one triple and five doubles.
And that’s despite Rodriguez starting the season 1-for-9 over his first two games. He’s been on an absolute tear since then, posting a .405 batting average, .500 on-base percentage and .929 slugging percentage over the last 10 games.
On Monday, the Seattle Mariners announced Rodriguez will play for the Dominican Republic national team in its upcoming Tokyo Olympic qualifier. The Dominican Republic begins play in the Baseball Americas Qualifier on May 31 in Florida.
Rodriguez was far from the only Everett hitter who had a big week.
The AquaSox averaged a whopping 10.8 runs per game over the six-game series, while smacking 14 home runs and 23 doubles. Eight different Everett players homered in the series. The Sox finished the week with a combined .305 batting average, .433 on-base percentage and .614 slugging percentage.
Here’s a look at some of the other Everett hitters who excelled in last week’s series:
Jack Larsen: The 26-year-old former undrafted free agent batted 10-for-24 this past week, with one home run and four doubles. He has a .385 batting average this season, which ranks second in the High-A West among qualified players.
Patrick Frick: The 2019 14th-round draft pick went 8-for-17 in the series, with two home runs and two doubles. That included a big performance in Sunday’s rout, when he hit two homers and a double and drove in five runs. Frick is batting .313 for the season.
Tyler Keenan: After a rough 0-for-19 showing at the plate in the season-opening series against Hillsboro, the 2020 fourth-round draft pick rebounded with a strong series against Tri-City. Keenan, ranked by MLB.com as the No. 29 prospect in the Mariners’ organization, went 5-for-14 this past week with one home run and four doubles.
Zach DeLoach: The 2020 second-round draft pick and Mariners’ No. 13-ranked prospect is riding a six-game hitting streak after going 9-for-28 this past week with a grand slam and four doubles.
PITCHING REMAINS DOMINANT
While the AquaSox’s batters were busy pounding out hits last week and lighting up the Funko Field scoreboard, their pitchers turned in another impressive series.
For the season, Everett pitchers have a 2.62 earned-run average, which is 0.38 better than any other team in the High-A West. AquaSox pitchers also lead the league with 160 strikeouts in 110 innings, a .179 opponents’ batting average and a 1.04 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).
Here’s a look at some of the Everett pitchers who shined in last week’s series:
George Kirby: The 2019 first-round draft pick had a brilliant second start of the season Friday night. Kirby, the No. 78 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, tossed five scoreless innings of no-hit ball and retired 14 of the 15 batters he faced. The right-hander posted eight strikeouts and allowed only one walk, which was the first of his minor league career. Kirby had opened his minor league career by going 28 consecutive innings without a walk. He now has 37 strikeouts and one walk over 31 2/3 innings pitched in the minors.
Matt Brash: Brash, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick by San Diego, pitched four scoreless innings of one-hit ball Tuesday night. He struck out 10 batters and walked three. The Mariners’ No. 30-ranked prospect has the third-most strikeouts in the High-A West this season, with 16 punchouts in seven innings pitched.
Brandon Williamson: The 2019 second-round draft pick tossed four scoreless innings of one-hit ball Saturday night, while recording eight strikeouts and four walks. Williamson, the Mariners’ No. 10-ranked prospect, has allowed no runs and just three hits in eight innings pitched this season. He ranks second in the High-A West with 17 strikeouts and has yielded just four walks.
Brendan McGuigan: The former undrafted free agent has yet to allow a run or a hit in eight innings of relief this season. He has 14 strikeouts and just two walks.
Evan Johnson: The former undrafted free agent has allowed just one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings of relief this season. He has 12 strikeouts and two walks.
Isaiah Campbell: The 2019 second-round draft pick had another quality outing Sunday, when he struck out seven batters in four innings pitched, while allowing one earned run, one unearned run, three hits and no walks. Campbell, the Mariners’ No. 12-ranked prospect, has struck out 11 batters and allowed only one earned run in eight innings this season.
The AquaSox begin a 12-game road trip Tuesday night, when they open a six-game series against the Spokane Indians. After that, they face the Vancouver Canadians in a six-game series in Hillsboro, Oregon. Everett returns to Funko Field on June 1 for the start of a 12-game homestand that runs through June 13.