Alberto Rodriguez is heating up, and he’s doing it in a big way.
The Everett AquaSox’s right fielder took Eugene by storm last week, blasting six home runs in seven games against the Emeralds as the Sox crept closer to first place in the Northwest League standings.
“Alberto is not missing much that’s coming over the plate right now,” Everett manager Ryan Scott said. “It’s fun to see.”
Rodriguez, a 22-year-old from the Dominican Republic, was considered one of the top prospects in the Seattle Mariners’ system after the Mariners acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2020 deal that sent pitcher Taijuan Walker to Toronto. However, an indifferent 2022 season in Everett took some of the shine off Rodriguez, and he came into this season ranked by MLB.com as just the 27th-best prospect in Seattle’s organization.
Rodriguez returned for a second stint in Everett and was having a better season at the plate, batting .298 heading into the Eugene series. However, his home-run power had yet to arrive, as the muscular 5-foot-10, 227-pounder had just two dingers in 30 games.
That power returned in spades in Eugene. In the series Rodriguez batted .448 with six homers and 15 RBI. Of his 13 hits in the series, 11 went for extra bases.
Scott credited Rodriguez working with hitting coach Michael Fransoso for Rodriguez’s recent improvements.
“He’s been shortening up his swing a little bit, getting rid of some of the movement in his pre-pitch load,” Scott explained. “That gives him more time to recognize pitches and get his A swing off more, and he’s able to be on time for fastballs over the plate. He was able to get some balls up in the air and hit them hard.”
For the season Rodriguez is now up to .327 with 15 doubles, eight homers and 32 RBI in 38 games. His 1.060 OPS ranks second in the Northwest League among qualifiers. Given Rodriguez already has a full season at High-A Everett under his belt, he’s making a strong argument for promotion.
“That’s not up to us,” Scott said about a potential promotion for Rodriguez. “As long as he goes about his work day to day and understands that this is where he is now, it will set him up for good opportunities. He can’t be worried about getting called up, he has to play where he’s at, and he’s doing a really good job.”
Rodriguez’s offense contributed to a successful series for the Sox. Everett went 5-2 in the series and the Sox are back to .500 at 23-23. Although Everett is in fifth place in the league standings, the race has tightened considerably as the top five teams are all within two games of one another. Less than a month remains in the first half of the season, with the first-half winner earning a spot in the league’s championship series.
Players of the week
Hitter: Rodriguez. His exploits earned him Northwest League Player of the Week honors.
Pitcher: Nick Davila. The 24-year-old right-hander, signed by the Mariners as a minor-league free agent in March, joined the Sox last week and moved straight into the starting rotation, effectively taking the place of the promoted Juan Mercedes. In 11 innings over two starts he compiled a 3.27 ERA, walking four and striking out 11. His Everett debut last Wednesday was dynamite as he fanned eight in five scoreless innings in the Sox’s 3-2 victory.
The week ahead
It’s a bit of an abbreviated week for the Sox. Playing on Memorial Day while having Tuesday off means Everett has just five games, as the Sox complete their six-game home series against the Hillsboro Hops.
Hillsboro, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is the one team not in league contention at the moment as the Hops are 19-27 and six games out of first. However, Hillsboro took the first game of the series Monday and is 5-2 against Everett this season.
Hillsboro’s top player is first baseman Ivan Melendez. Melendez (.264, seven homers, 21 RBI), ranked by MLB.com as Arizona’s seventh-best prospect, leads Hops qualifiers in OPS at .910. Left-handed pitcher Yu-Min Lin, ranked as the Diamondbacks’ No. 10 prospect by MLB.com, has a 4.23 ERA and a 32/8 strikeout/walk ratio in 27.2 innings.