(SEATTLE) – Julio Rodriguez grew up in Loma de Cabrera, a small Dominican town of roughly 20,000 located near the Haitian border. Before him, the only prominent baseball player from there was Rafael Furcal, an All-Star shortstop through the 2000’s. Rodriguez looked up to Furcal as a kid, remembering the parade that the city organized for him and all the fanfare that came with it. Now Rodriguez will get one of his own when he returns home, after the Seattle Mariners’ dynamic young center fielder was named the American League Rookie of the Year in near-unanimous fashion on Monday, a fitting cap to a stirring campaign that saw him dazzle at the Home Run Derby, perform among the sport's best players and propel the Mariners to a long-awaited trip to the playoffs. Rodriguez received 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, with Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman receiving the other. Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan, Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the voting. Rodriguez, 21, electrified the city of Seattle and captivated an entire nation of baseball fans with his youthful exuberance, pronounced swagger and wide-ranging talent. He slashed .284/.345/.509, leading all rookies in homers (28), OPS (.855) and total bases (260) while helping the Mariners clinch their first postseason berth since 2001, snapping the longest active drought among the four major North American professional sports. Rodriguez, who added 25 stolen bases and 25 doubles, is now the fifth Mariners player to win rookie of the year, after Alvin Davis (1984), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Kyle Lewis (2020).