Julio Rodriguez has rediscovered his early-season stroke and is making up for lost time.MLB.com's No. 54 overall prospect rapped out four hits -- including a double -- and scored twice as Class A West Virginia topped Lakewood, 6-1, on Sunday at FirstEnergy Park.
Julio Rodriguez has rediscovered his early-season stroke and is making up for lost time.
MLB.com's No. 54 overall prospect rapped out four hits -- including a double -- and scored twice as Class A West Virginia topped Lakewood, 6-1, on Sunday at FirstEnergy Park.
Rodriguez missed almost two months with a hairline fracture on his left hand. He suffered the injury April 12 when he was hit on a first-inning pitch by Augusta right-hander Jake Wong and returned to the West Virginia lineup June 10.
Power hitting coach Eric Farris said there was limited contact with the second-year player during his rehab in Arizona, but conversations with him were always forward-thinking.
"Our staff out there had full rein on getting him back into playing shape," Farris said. "[It was] more of just consistent encouragement. I just checked in, made sure to let him know to get the work done and be ready when he returns."
The second-ranked Mariners prospect had gotten off to a sizzling start, batting .355/.444/.452 before the injury, then went 6-for-18 (.333) in his first five games after coming back. Rodriguez's average fell to a season-low .268 on July 26, but has rebounded to .291 courtesy of a 21-for-57 (.368) stretch across the last 14 games.
Gameday box score
The 18-year-old stroked a two-out, first-pitch double to right field in the first inning off Phillies No. 7 prospectFrancisco Morales (1-6) and scored on Bobby Honeyman's single to left. Rodriguez led off the fourth with a base hit to center against the right-hander before crossing the plate on Mike Salvatore's sacrifice fly to give the Power a 2-1 lead.
"His routine is rock solid," Farris said of the outfielder's preparations. "We mostly work on trying to elevate the baseball and see the numbers of the center and right fielders. Our goal every day is to hit a ball with enough impact to see an outfielder's back."
In the fifth, facing righty Andrew Schultz, the Dominican Republic native reached on a one-out fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was left stranded.
Against Phillies No. 30 prospect Victor Santos in the seventh, Rodriguez beat out an infield hit to third off the right-hander. After a walk to 30th-ranked Austin Shenton, he moved to third on a base hit by Onil Pena before Santos and righty Gilmael Troya worked out of the bases-loaded jam.
Rodriguez led off the ninth against Omar Maldonado with another infield hit to third. After Honeyman singled and Pena was plunked to load the bases, the right-hander induced Salvatore to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the frame.
"He's very good at self-correction," Farris noted of Rodriguez. "He's very aware of his body and how it works when it comes to his swing. Adjustments come easy for him and he's able to take the information given by myself or the opposing pitcher and adjust accordingly."
It marked Rodriguez's sixth multi-hit game in the last nine contests and 24th this season. His previous four-hit game came last Aug. 1 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League.
"There's plenty of 'wow' moments, but I've come to expect them more often these days," Farris admitted. "As he continues to mature, he will only get better. He has an insane combination of power, speed, size, competitiveness and makeup, which makes him so fun to watch and be around.
"In the meantime, it's more about keeping him grounded and learning the nuances of this game. That will make it easier for him to be successful."
Josias De Los Santos (4-6) allowed one run on eight hits with four strikeouts across six innings.
Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB.