Is Julio Rodríguez already the Mariners’ most irreplaceable player?
Lost in the excitement of the Mariners’ 6-3 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday was that rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez was hit by a two pitches in his left arm during the contest.
“It made me wonder where does Julio rank, as of today, on the most irreplaceable Mariners list?” Salk asked Friday morning. “Who’s the most irreplaceable person on this team right now? It’s not the best player … but it’s who could you live without the least? … Is it Julio?”
Rodríguez, who is only 21 years old, has made quite an impact for the Mariners already as a rookie. He’s slashing .270/.336/.422 with seven home runs, 26 RBIs and runs scored and an MLB-leading 17 stolen bases this season. Rodríguez has been especially great since the start of May, slashing .304/.364/.507 in 36 games since May 1.
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Salk thinks that Rodríguez is worthy of the title of most irreplaceable Mariner along with shortstop J.P. Crawford and first baseman Ty France. A big reason why is because of the position he plays.
“Who’s playing centerfield if he’s not there?” Salk asked. ” … I mean, without J.P. Crawford you’re playing Dylan Moore at short every day, which I really am not super comfortable with. But if you don’t have Julio, are you playing Sam Haggerty out in center field every day? The drop off, especially right now with no (Mitch) Haniger and with (Jarred) Kelenic not up is pretty extreme.”
What makes Rodríguez’s case so interesting is that he has very little MLB experience.
“He has already in what, two-plus months, become the Mariners’ if not their most irreplaceable player, top three,” Salk said, later adding “More than the actual conversation about who’s the most irreplaceable is how amazing it is that Julio has worked his way into if not the top of that conversation, very close to it in such short order.”
Rodríguez’s prospect reports have all talked about his power, but that’s taken longer to develop than some of his other tools such as hit tool, speed, glove and throwing arm. But the fact that Rodríguez is one of the best players in baseball in terms of hitting the ball hard has Salk thinking the homers are going to start piling up in the near future for No. 44.
“I think there will be a week where all of a sudden he hits two or three and then there’s a month where he hits nine or 10,” Salk said. “I don’t think that’s impossible at all.”
Listen to the full first hour of Friday’s Mike Salk Show at this link or in the player below.