Dipoto: Rodríguez, Raleigh and Trammell stepping up for Mariners of late

Jun 10, 2022, 11:09 AM
Mariners Cal Raleigh...
Cal Raleigh celebrates his two-run home run against the A's on May 23, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners have turned things around of late, winning each of their last four series which has the team 8-4 over that stretch, which includes a 6-3 road trip.

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A big reason why Seattle has played better recently? The performance of young players.

Three young hitters who have stepped up of late are Julio Rodríguez, Cal Raleigh and Taylor Trammell.

During his weekly visit with Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Mike Salk Show, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto shared his thoughts on those three and what they’ve done of late.

Julio Rodríguez is “such a different player”

For Rodríguez, he was the American League Rookie of the Month in May and he’s carried that over into June. The center fielder is slashing .270/.336/.422 with seven home runs this year.

His most recent homer came on Monday in Houston shortly after a benches-clearing altercation between the Mariners and Astros. Rodríguez coming up clutch in that situation certainly caught Dipoto’s eye.

“He’s just such a different player … Julio doesn’t shy from the moment,” he said. “In fact, he seems to rise to it. That’s a wonderful sign with a young player and probably portends great things to come. He has a way about him at such a young age of standing up and allowing the light to shine on him, and he doesn’t shy away from it. It’s such a wonderful trait.”

What Rodríguez did there in that moment resonated with Dipoto because it was another example of Rodriguez slowing the game down and also channeling his passion in a positive way without letting big moments overwhelm him.

“I do think that this road trip in general was a great microcosm of Julio’s growth. It started out he was excellent the first couple of games in Baltimore, and then that first game in Texas, it got running really fast for him, and you can see it moving really fast,” Dipoto said. “And the next day, he said, ‘Hey, this moves too fast for me,’ he pumped the brakes, he slowed it down, and he got back to being the impact player he’s been for the last two months.”

Why did the game speed up on Rodríguez that first day in Texas? Dipoto said he “had a big day” because the Mariners didn’t get to Arlington until roughly 4:30 a.m. and that was the day Rodríguez won Rookie of the Month, so he had a lot of media appearances as a result.

“I think he got to the ballpark and hadn’t had a chance to go through his normal prep to slow it down in the early day,” Dipoto said. “And he was able to recognize that and the next day he came in and he looked different and and he approached the game the same way he had. And again, he slowed it down in the moment, which I think is a fantastic trait for any player, much less a 21 year old.”

Going back to Rodríguez’s homer in Houston, it went out to right field. Dipoto said that going to the opposite field is something Rodriguez has recognized and done from an early age.

“If we go back to Julio’s 17-year-old season and as an 18 year old as he’s being introduced in the United States, that was his spot just driving the ball to right-center field. That’s how Julio does his thing,” Dipoto said. “And I’m thrilled that he hasn’t lost that with the major league spotlight. He’s just sticking with what he knows. He has the ability to drive the ball that way. It’s always been there for him and as long as he doesn’t lose that, you can be a great hitter because hitting the ball as hard as he does and using the entire field, (the stadium is) not going to hold them if he allows it to happen.”

Cal Raleigh “just looks different”

Raleigh took his lumps as a rookie in 2021 and also during the start of 2022, but he hit .250 on the road trip with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

Dipoto thinks that Raleigh is playing with a lot of confidence and also has taken ownership of his playing time in a way he hadn’t before. Part of that is because Tom Murphy is still on the injured list, opening the door for Raleigh to play nearly every day.

“And since (Raleigh has) been back (from Triple-A), he just looks different,” Dipoto said. “There’s a gleam in his eye, he looks engaged. Behind the plate, he’s been catching great. The game calling, the interaction with the pitcher, he’s just engaged in a way that I don’t think he has been as a major leaguer. This was always the version we’ve seen in the minor leagues and I think knowing that he had some runway to play with while Murph continues to rehab gave him the opportunity to competently go out and just do what he does in a very regular role. In catchers, that’s about as ‘every day’ as you can play. And we’re seeing all of the good things that we’ve always seen from Cal. He’ll take his walks, hit his homers, he’s a very dangerous hitter and it’s showing up that way. And when you have that kind of power at the bottom of your lineup, it really makes a difference.”

“We really needed” Taylor Trammell

Trammell, like Raleigh, struggled as a rookie in 2021 and he, also like Raleigh, has been great for the Mariners of late.

During the road trip, Trammell hit .280 with five doubles. And aside from his four-strikeout day on Tuesday, Trammell has really cut down on his swings and misses and is making more consistent contact. Much of that contact has been loud and hard, too.

“I really can’t say (enough about) how pleased I am with how well he’s played at a time when we really needed him to step up and to have that happen,” Dipoto said. “… Taylor really did take the flag and stand up when we needed him to. He’s hit some big extra-base hits for us, he’s shown energy, I think he’s played a really solid right field.”

“And right now on our roster, as we’re playing through this, it gives us so much flexibility to have the number of outfielders that we do that can that interchangeable because we don’t have the big bat presence of Mitch Haniger out there,” Dipoto added. “So finding matchups where we can is pretty important right now until we get back to full strength.”

Listen to the full interview at this link or in the player below.

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Dipoto: Rodríguez, Raleigh and Trammell stepping up for Mariners of late