Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Julio Rodríguez starred in a win on Wednesday against Nicaragua as the Dominican Republic advanced to the Super Round of the Americas tournament, a necessary step for qualifying for this summer's Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The 20-year-old Rodríguez, who started in right field and batted third in a lineup that also featured José Bautista, went 3 for 5 at the plate with two home runs and three runs batted in against an overmatched Nicaraguan pitching staff.
Rodríguez's first home run of the afternoon gave the Dominican Republic a 2-1 lead and was delivered off Elias Gutierrez.
Later, with the Dominican Republic leading by a 10-3 margin in the seventh, Rodríguez smoked a solo shot off reliever Harvin Talavera:
Rodríguez entered the spring ranked by CBS Sports as the fourth best prospect in the minors. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Rodríguez will almost certainly be the top prospect in the M's system this time next year. He has the makings of becoming a middle-of-the-order fixture who hits for average and big-time power alike thanks to his bat speed, strength, and feel for making loud contact. Rodríguez split the 2019 season between A- and High-A and, despite being several years younger than his competition, hit .326/.390/.540 in what was his stateside debut. Defensively, he's likely heading for permanent residence in right field, where his well-above-average arm should help him atone for whatever range he may lose in time as he adds weight to his frame.
The Dominican Republic and the United States will now represent Group A in this weekend's Super Round. They'll contend with Canada and Venezuela, both of Group B, with the winner of the Super Round punching their ticket to the Olympics. The second- and third-place teams, meanwhile, participate in another qualifier tournament later this month.