AquaSox second baseman Brock Rodden throws out a runner June 5 during a game against the Vancouver Giants at Funko Field in Everett. Rodden has been the team’s top offensive performer so far this season. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

AquaSox second baseman Brock Rodden throws out a runner June 5 during a game against the Vancouver Giants at Funko Field in Everett. Rodden has been the team’s top offensive performer so far this season. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

AquaSox week in review: Keystone capers buoy Everett

Brock Rodden and Josh Hood have a friendly rivalry that pushes both players.

EVERETT — The middle of the Everett AquaSox infield has been doing some big things at the top of the order lately.

Though they root for each other and turn double plays together, a friendly competition between second baseman Brock Rodden and shortstop Josh Hood has helped both players this season.

“We give each other a hard time, but it’s all out of love,” said Hood, a sixth-round draft pick out of North Carolina State by the Seattle Mariners in 2022. “It’s great to hit behind a guy like that, because you get to see a guy who does it right.”

Rodden, who typically hits in the leadoff spot, leads all Northwest League batters with a .313 batting average and has stolen a team-high 18 bases. The 5-foot-7 fifth-round pick from Wichita State and reigning Northwest League Player of the month has continued his hot hitting in June. After a slow start, Hood has been on fire so far this month, and leads the team with 28 runs batted in while typically batting third in the order.

“I got hot for a month, and I think it has a lot to do with the guys in the lineup hitting behind me in the order,” said Rodden, who is a switch-hitter. “The starting pitcher can’t take an at bat off. It’s just kind of mentally drains them and frees up some guys to get good pitches.”

The friendly rivalry often comes out during batting practices. Toward the end, the team will often hold competitions, challenging each other to hit or bunt to a specific part of the field.

“It makes those long days easier when you can have fun with your teammates,” said Rodden, who leads the Northwest League with an .895 OPS. “We all have fun, and we all give each other a hard time. Nobody wears their heart on their sleeve, and we all have a great time together. “

Week in review

The AquaSox (26-30) split a six-game series with Vancouver and are 5 ½ games behind first-place Spokane (30-23) in a tightly contested Northwest League. The Frogs won three of the first four before dropping the last two over the weekend. They enter this week in fifth place with just six wins separating the six teams.

Players of the week

Hitter: Hood. The 23-year-old shortstop led the team in on-base percentage (.519) and stolen bases (six) last week while being among the team leaders in batting average (.409), RBI (five) and OPS (1.155).

“I’ve just been trusting myself and the process,” said Hood, whose batting average climbed from .227 on June 4 to .253 through Sunday’s 8-3 loss to Vancouver. “This game is a game that will balance itself out. You’re going to have some tough times and some good times.”

Pitcher: Michael Morales. The 21-year-old starter has been showing the promise that led the Mariners to draft him with a third-round pick out of East Pennsboro High School in Pennsylvania in 2021. The 6-foot-2 right-hander needed just 78 pitches to get through six innings of Thursday’s 5-1 victory over Vancouver. He struck out 10 and walked only one, with the one blemish coming in the form of a solo home run allowed to Jamari Baylor in the fifth inning.

“He’s given us quality starts over his last four starts,” AquaSox manager Ryan Scott said. “It’s been a lot of fun seeing his whole progression move forward.”

Scott said that Morales has learned to avoid trying to be overly perfect, and trust that pitches over the plate will lead to outs. This has allowed Morales to go deeper into games, and he currently leads the Northwest League with 60 inning pitched.

“He’s learning how good his stuff is,” Scott said. “The competitiveness and the composure he has on the mound really drives him. It’s been fun to watch.”

The week ahead

Everett travels to Eugene to begin a six-game series against the second-place Emeralds (30-25) on Tuesday. Eugene swept the AquaSox in the first full series of the season in April, but Everett won four of six against the Emeralds last month. Eugene excels at getting on base. The Emeralds stand atop the league with a team .353 on-base percentage, led by first baseman Andrew Kachel (.420) and left fielder Matt Higgins (.400).

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