The MLB’s Next Superstar: Julio Rodriguez

Seattle Mariners outfielder, Julio Rodriguez, was awarded several times following the conclusion of the 2021-22 MLB season. For his standout performance, Rodriguez earned the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year award, an All-Star nod and a Silver Slugger award—an award given to the best offensive player at each individual position.

Rodriguez was born in Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic on December 29, 2000. At the age of 16, Rodriguez signed as an international free agent with the Seattle Mariners. He went on to make his professional debut with the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League Mariners in 2018. He signed a 14-year contract extension with the Mariners worth $400 million, Aug. 16, after slashing 284/.345/.509 in the first half of 2022 and finishing runner-up in the Home Run Derby. At 21 years of age, Rodriguez became the youngest player in North American sports history to sign a contract that’s guaranteed at over $200 million.

This year’s accolades for Rodriguez don’t end there. Rodriguez was named both the Mariners’ team MVP and the Players Choice Awards AL Outstanding Rookie in 2022. In addition, Rodriguez played a vital role in the Mariners’ effort to end the longest active playoff drought in North American Sports. 

In 132 games, Rodriguez had 28 homers, 25 doubles, three triples, 84 runs scored, 75 runs batted in, 25 stolen bases, 145 strikeouts and 40 walks in his 560 plate appearances. 

Rodriguez is the first and fastest player in MLB history to earn 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in his debut season. He was the fastest to complete these feats as well, as it was done in only 125 career games.

The performance of Rodriguez this year has caused fans to believe that he has the potential to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Niall Quinn, a fourth-year student contact counselor at Seattle University believes Rodriguez is capable, but it is too early to tell. 

“I feel very excited, it’s been a long time since we had someone with this much promise, and having a superstar like this at the age of 21 is super exciting,” Quinn said. “Rodriguez is trending in the right direction of becoming one of the greatest of all time.”

Rodriguez and his accolades serve as an inspiration for many up-and-coming baseball players in and out of Seattle. If these record-breaking achievements are only what he’s done in the 2022 season, there’s no doubt Rodriguez is bound to go down as one of the greatest baseball players our time has seen.

Even people who don’t play baseball have found great awe in Rodriguez’s performances. Nathan Kwan, a first-year engineering major at Seattle University, is astonished by Rodriguez’s performance.

“Although I don’t play baseball myself, it’s hard to overlook just how impressive the things Rodriguez achieved are,” Kwan said. “As a minority in America who also plays sports, seeing someone who’s also a minority so determined to continue achieving these great feats in America, gives me somebody to resonate with as I also aspire to find success in America.”

Some fans are especially shocked about how Rodriguez performed this year. Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver was thrilled to see Rodriguez break out this year. 

“I’ve been following him since the Mariners signed him a few years ago, waiting for him to make his big league debut, but nothing prepared me for his success this year,” Peñalver said. “His joy for the game and his maturity in the face of success has made him my favorite Mariner. I have three Mariners jerseys of Edgar Martinez, Julio Rodriguez, and Felix Hernandez. Julio Rodriguez definitely belongs in that company.”

As 2022 comes to a closing point, Rodriguez has shown his capabilities as a player for the Mariners. His skills show his love and passion for baseball and his accolades will be remembered for years to come. While his career remains in its fledgling stage, his promise fills the Emerald City with hope for their long-suffering ballclub.