Julio Rodriguez picked up right where he left off.
After starring for the Dominican Republic national team at an Olympic qualifying event in Florida, the highly touted 20-year-old phenom returned to the Everett AquaSox last week.
And just like he’d done over the first three weeks of the minor league season — and during the week-long event in Florida — Rodriguez kept on mashing baseballs.
Rodriguez, ranked by Baseball America as the sport’s No. 3 overall prospect, went 7-for-20 with a home run and three doubles during last week’s five-game series against the Eugene Emeralds. That included a massive performance last Wednesday night, when he went 4-for-5 with an opposite-field homer and a double.
Rodriguez’s big series came after a spectacular week in Florida, where he showcased his immense talent while helping his native Dominican Republic keep alive its dream of qualifying for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The prized outfield prospect went 11-for-24 in five games at the Olympic qualifier event, with two monstrous home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
At the High-A level this season, Rodriguez is batting .327 with six home runs, one triple and eight doubles. He leads the six-team High-A West in batting average and ranks fifth in on-base percentage (.415) and second in slugging percentage (.589). He has at least one hit in 22 of his 26 games.
Rodriguez’s performance last week highlighted a success-filled series for the AquaSox, who surged into first place in the High-A West after taking four of five games from the Emeralds at Funko Field. Sunday’s series finale was rained out, which marked the second consecutive week that Everett had a series cut short by rain.
After leaping into first place, the AquaSox (21-13) now hold a one-game lead over the second-place Vancouver Canadians and a 1.5-game lead over third-place Eugene.
BINS, SHENTON CONTINUE TO SLUG
Rodriguez is far from the only AquaSox player excelling at the plate.
Carter Bins had another big week, going 7-for-13 with a home run and three doubles in the five-game series against Eugene. For the season, the 22-year-old catcher is batting .319 with six homers and seven doubles. He leads the High-A West in slugging percentage (.593) and ranks second in batting average and third in on-base percentage (.427).
Austin Shenton also continues to rack up extra-base hits. In last week’s series, the Bellingham High School alum went 9-for-20 with two home runs and two doubles. The 23-year-old third baseman, ranked by MLB.com as the Seattle Mariners’ No. 18 overall prospect, leads the High-A West with 21 extra-base hits and is third in slugging percentage (.539). He is batting .281 with five homers, two triples and 14 doubles.
As a team, the AquaSox lead the High-A West in runs per game (6.5), batting average (.261), on-base percentage (.364), slugging percentage (.457), home runs (41) and doubles (85).
The top four batting averages in the High-A West all belong to Everett players: Rodriguez (.327), Bins (.319), Patrick Frick (.305) and Jack Larsen (.304).
Likewise, the top five slugging percentages in the league all belong to AquaSox players: Bins (.593), Rodriguez (.589), Shenton (.539), Larsen (.530) and Kaden Polcovich (.508).
PITCHING PROSPECT UPDATE
Eight of the Mariners’ top 16 pitching prospects — including six of their top eight — are currently on the AquaSox. Here’s an update on each of them:
Emerson Hancock: The Mariners’ 2020 first-round draft pick allowed one run and three hits in 3 2/3 innings pitched last Friday, with one strikeout and three walks. Hancock, ranked by MLB.com as the No. 25 overall prospect in baseball, has a 2.25 earned-run average in 16 innings this season over the course of five starts. The 22-year-old former University of Georgia star has 12 strikeouts and nine walks.
George Kirby: The Mariners’ 2019 first-round draft pick allowed one run and four hits in five innings pitched on Saturday, while striking out three batters and walking none. Kirby, MLB.com’s No. 76 overall prospect, has a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings this season over the course of four starts. He has 19 strikeouts, just three walks and a 0.81 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). After a three-week gap between starts earlier this season, the 23-year-old out of Elon University has pitched in each of Everett’s last two series.
Juan Then: Then, the Mariners’ No. 8 overall prospect according to MLB.com, allowed three runs and four hits in five innings pitched during his start last Tuesday. He struck out four batters and walked four. The 21-year-old Dominican Republic native has a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings this season, with 15 strikeouts and eight walks.
Brandon Williamson: The Mariners’ No. 9-ranked prospect was slated to start Sunday’s game that got rained out. Williamson, a 2019 second-round draft pick out of Texas Christian University, has a 3.51 ERA in 25 2/3 innings pitched this season, with a whopping 51 strikeouts and just seven walks. The 6-foot-6 left-hander is averaging 1.99 strikeouts per inning and has struck out exactly 50% of the batters he’s faced.
Isaiah Campbell: The Mariners’ No. 11-ranked prospect didn’t pitch in last week’s series. Campbell, a 2019 second-round draft pick out of the University of Arkansas, has a 2.33 ERA in 19 1/3 innings pitched this season, with 20 strikeouts and six walks.
Levi Stoudt: The Mariners’ No. 13-ranked prospect allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched during his start last Thursday, while striking out five batters and walking five. The 2019 third-round draft pick out of Lehigh University has a 3.77 ERA in 28 2/3 innings this season, with 32 strikeouts and 21 walks.
Tim Elliott: The Mariners’ No. 24-ranked prospect allowed two runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief last Wednesday, while striking out six batters and walking one. The 2019 fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Georgia has a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings this season, with 25 strikeouts and 12 walks.
Matt Brash: The Mariners’ No. 27-ranked prospect allowed two runs and two hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched during his start last Wednesday, while striking out seven batters and walking four. Brash, a 2019 fourth-round draft pick by the San Diego Padres, has a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings this season. He has 41 strikeouts and 17 walks, with a 36.3% strikeout rate and 1.58 strikeouts per inning.
The AquaSox embark on a 12-game road trip. Everett opens a six-game series Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canadians, who trail the first-place AquaSox by one game in the High-A West standings. The series will be in Hillsboro, Oregon, where Vancouver is playing its home games due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to nonessential travel. After that, Everett travels to face the last-place Tri-City Dust Devils in a six-game series.