Jose Bautista has backed Julio Rodriguez to establish himself as one of Major League Baseball’s biggest superstars over the next few years.
The former Toronto Blue Jays star knows a thing or two about climbing the ladder in professional baseball, after bouncing back from adversity to become a six-time All-Star.
Rodriguez is currently in pole position to win the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year award after producing some impressive performances for the Seattle Mariners this season.
The 21-year-old previously played alongside Bautista for the Dominican Republic at the 2020 Olympic Games and is rated as one of baseball’s top prospects.
Bautista recognised Rodriguez’s potential at the event and recently told Betway that he has been monitoring his progress ever since.
“He’s a phenomenal kid and an even better baseball player,” he said. “To see him get the call up a little after the season had gotten underway was great.
“Knowing how much that team needed someone to step up, and having it be him as a rookie, make the All-Star team, be in the Home Run Derby and show his personality, how much positive energy he brings every day, and how exciting he makes the game with a combination of great defence, power and speed has been really cool to see. He’s been by far the most exciting guy for me this season.”
Rodriguez got off to a slow start this term, recording .205/.284/.260 over his first 20 games with no home runs and a disappointing 61 wRC+.
He significantly improved his averages by the time he made his 100th appearance, drawing comparisons with some of the biggest stars ever to grace the sport.
In the wake of Fernando Tatis Jr’s recent suspension for drug offences, the door is open for Rodriguez to become the sport’s most saleable asset.
He is playing an integral role for one of the most exciting young teams in baseball, performing with a sense of fun that makes him a marketing agency’s dream.
Baseball has been crying out for a new young superstar, particularly as many of the older guard have failed to cash in on their popularity.
That point is hammered home by Mike Trout, who has not captured the imagination of sponsors despite being one of the biggest earners in professional sport.
By contrast, Rodriguez exudes charisma and is more than happy to engage with fans, and appears to have all the attributes to embrace the role of being an ambassador for the sport.
While the Mariners are not certain of their place in the play-offs, progressing to the post-season would undoubtedly be a major boost to Rodriguez’s personal brand.
He has the potential to be the complete package in baseball, something Bautista believes his compatriot will relish.
“I’m just really excited to see what kind of impact he can have in the future within the game, within his organisation and where they are in the winning cycle right now,” added Bautista.
“I think he’s gonna have a stage to really show off and he’s off to a great start, and I hope that he continues to do what he’s been doing and hopefully stay away from high-and-in fastballs!”