Top Seattle Mariners prospect Julio Rodriguez makes Opening Day roster

Outfielder Julio Rodriguez, the Seattle Mariners' top prospect, has made the team's Opening Day roster, manager Scott Servais announced Monday.

ESPN's Kiley McDaniel ranks Rodriguez as the No. 3 overall prospect in Major League Baseball. He joins No. 2 prospect Bobby Witt Jr. (third baseman, Kansas City Royals) among the top three prospects in McDaniel's rankings to make an Opening Day roster. Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 prospect, won't be ready for Opening Day because of a right triceps strain he suffered last month.

Rodriguez, 21, has a .419 batting average with three home runs and eight RBIs in Cactus League action. He is expected to be the Mariners' center fielder, which will allow Seattle the flexibility to use multiple outfield lineups consisting of Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, Mitch Haniger and Jesse Winker.

"It's time for Julio Rodriguez to play in the big leagues," Servais told reporters.

Last season, Rodriguez dominated at every level he played in the minors, finishing with a .347 batting average, 13 home runs and 47 RBIs. He also shined for the Dominican Republic during the Tokyo Olympics, helping his country win the bronze medal.

"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.''

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.''

The Mariners open the 2022 season on Thursday against the Twins in Minnesota.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.