Mariners’ top prospect Julio Rodríguez on Opening Day roster

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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PEORIA, Ariz. — Seattle Mariners’ top prospect Julio Rodriguez will be on the Opening Day roster, manager Scott Servais announced.

“It’s time for Julio Rodriguez to play in the big leagues,” Servais said.

After a torrid spring training, the decision to start the 21-year-old in the majors was easy for the Mariners, along with the rising push from fans ready to see Rodriguez playing in Seattle. The Mariners are scheduled to open the regular season at Minnesota.

“As I’ve been saying in every single interview like this will be a dream become reality right now,” Rodriguez said. “As you guys can see, you work your whole life to basically get to this point right now, it’s amazing honestly.”

Rodriguez was hitting .419 with three home runs, eight RBIs and a 1.310 OPS. He’s also shown the capability of handling duties in center field, which will allow Seattle the flexibility to use multiple outfield lineups consisting of Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, Mitch Haniger and Jesse Winker.

“Tremendous upside, potential in his ability on the field. I think what excites everybody is just his joy and passion for playing baseball,” Servais said. “He loves baseball. He really does. He loves being a part of what we’re doing here. And the way it looks, he’s going to have a big part of this going forward.”

Rodriguez has been rated among the top 10 prospects in baseball by multiple publications and while his potential was noted for several years it was last season where he really had a breakout. Rodriguez hit .347 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs at two stops in the minors. He also was a major contributor for the Dominican Republic team that won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

Servais said it was noticeable the first couple of days after players reported that Rodriguez had spent time in the offseason preparing for the opportunity to make the major league roster. Rodriguez’s power inside his 6-foot-3, 228-pound frame has been noticeable for several years, but the improvement in his speed is making him a bigger threat on the bases and allows the Mariners to play him in center field.

“I don’t think I will be here right now taking advantage of this opportunity if I wasn’t preparing myself for the past two years,” Rodriguez said. “That played the biggest part in my development was that choice me and my whole group made and just to go after it the best way that I could possibly do.”