The Seattle Mariners made a bold move early in the season to add Julio Rodriguez to their Opening Day roster.
The 21-year-old has played 46 games at Double-A in 2021 and it’s rare for a prospect to be called up with that small sample size in the minors.
Rodriguez is not just any prospect.
He’s a once-in-a-generation player who took MLB by storm in his very first season.
Although he was named to his first All-Star team in July, the first month of his career presented growing pains.
In April, Rodriguez hit .205 with zero homers, six RBIs and 30 strikeouts on seven walks.
Still, he always found ways to contribute via his big defense and his nine stolen bases.
According to Statcast, his sprint speed of 29.6 ranks 15th in MLB.
—MLB (@MLB) August 13, 2022
Then in May, the J-Rod Show took over MLB as the rookie was averaging .309 with six home runs, 17 RBIs and five stolen bases.
It even added nine multi-hit games during the month.
His June and July were just as good, as he combined to hit 12 homers in those months and scored 34 runs as he rose to the top of the Mariners batting order.
Rodriguez eventually settled into the big leagues and his success helped the Mariners advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
J-Rod leads a crowded field
Rodriguez is well ahead of the field for the AL Rookie of the Year trophy, but other contenders are in the running.
Bobby Witt Jr., Jeremy Pena and Adley Rutschman are also having strong seasons.
But none have the impact that Rodriguez has.
The Mariners center fielder leads all WAR rookies with a 4.0 rating, homers with 18 and RBIs with 59.
With help from Friday’s Grand Slam, Julio Rodríguez is the first freshman with 50 RBI and 20 SB heading into the All-Star Break.
He is the 2nd Mariners player with 50 RBI and 20 SB before the All-Star break (1998 Alex Rodriguez). pic.twitter.com/C40yD4E2kE
— ESPN Stats and Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2022
Not to mention, he became the youngest player to ever be named to the All-Star team.
He even competed in the Home Run Derby and had one of the best performances we’ve ever seen in the competition before losing to Juan Soto in the final.
Star power usually plays a part in award voting, and there aren’t many bigger stars than Rodriguez in MLB.
Rodriguez was always expected to be good (top-five prospect in baseball), but to be this good so soon is a shock.
He’s a real five-tool player.
He’s seventh in the league in stolen bases with 21 despite a recent stint in IL.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him with multiple 30-30 seasons throughout his career.
According to Covers.com, J-Rod is a strong betting favorite to win the ROY Trophy.
He is a -600 favorite that is far ahead of the rest of the contenders.
In a league that struggles to market its players, Rodriguez is a staple on TV.
As long as the 21-year-old can stay healthy, we should see him not only win the ROY award, but also help bring Seattle back to the playoffs.