Phillies Prospect #5: Mike Costanzo

Mike Costanzo appears to be in just about the right spot to take over as the Phillies third baseman in the not too distant future. He'll start the season at Double-A Reading, but may climb higher before too long.

Mike Costanzo contributes his love of the Phillies to his parents, who literally brought him home from the hospital in a Phillies jacket. He pretended to be Mike Schmidt when he was playing neighborhood ball with his friends and was a fan of Von Hayes, whom he got to meet this off-season. The Phillies became a Mike Costanzo fan when they were scouting for the 2005 Draft. They immediately noticed the power that he brought from the left side of the plate and thought that he could be more than just a powerful hitter. With their first round pick sacrificed to the Yankees because they signed Jon Lieber, the Phillies told Costanzo that if he was there when they picked in round two, he would likely be on his way to starting his dream. Luckily for the Phillies, Costanzo was still available and the Phillies held true to their word.

Now, with a couple of minor league seasons under his belt, Costanzo will look to improve upon the things that he's learned as a pro and put up the kind of numbers that will make other teams wish they had seen in Costanzo what the Phillies did and that they hadn't left him sitting there for the Phillies to take. After all, there were a handful of other clubs that had told Costanzo they would take him ahead of where the Phillies took him and decided to go other directions instead.

Costanzo has dedicated this season to his childhood friend Dominic who was killed in a motorcycle accident last fall. With his friend's memory in mind, Costanzo put in extra work this off-season and reported to Clearwater nearly a month early to get ready for the season. Many around the Phillies organization have talked about the shape that Costanzo is in and expect him to put up big numbers this season, offering a great tribute to his friend. 

Mike Costanzo's career stats

'05 Batavia 11 50 .274 73 281 47 77 17 3 0 35 89 .356
'06 Clearwater 14 81 .258 135 504 72 130 33 1 3 74 133 .364
TOTALS 25 131 .264 208 785 119 207 50 4 3 109 222 .361

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the 2005 Draft out of Coastal Carolina University. Costanzo was actually the first pick made by the Phillies in the 2005 Draft after they lost their first round pick to the Yankees as compensation for signing Jon Lieber.

Batting and Power: Don't be thrown by the drop in Costanzo's power numbers last season. While he hit a home run once every 25 at bats in 2005 and once every 36 at bats last season, don't overlook the fact that he skipped a level of pro ball to go from Batavia to Clearwater. One of the nicer numbers to look at are his strikeouts, which he worked to improve upon and put up slightly better ratios on even though he was skipping a level. One of the issues that Costanzo has dealt with in his first two seasons is getting off to a slow start. "I just have to take a deep breath before every at bat and do what I can to relax," said the third base prospect. He admits to having been pushing early on in each of his first two seasons and believes that's the reason for his slow starts. He figures to put that behind him in 2007 and post solid numbers from Opening Day through the rest of the season.

Baserunning and Speed: There probably aren't very many training camp sprints that Costanzo is going to win. His speed is average, but he doesn't run himself into outs. He's a smart baserunner and will take advantage of weak play by outfielders when he gets the chance.

Defense: In almost twice the number of games as he played in his debut season, Costanzo made just four more errors. He's worked hard to improve his defense and when he arrived in Clearwater, he started working with Bill Dancy on his footwork. One of the things that he's worked on is making the backhand play to his right and Dancy has worked closely with him. In a pinch, Costanzo could play first, where he played some in college and found himself there for one game last season at Clearwater.

Projection: If you're going to pick one player to follow in 2007, Costanzo wouldn't be a bad choice. He may have been the hardest working prospect in the organization this off-season and it figures to show. Reports are that he's looked great in camp and could have a big season at Double-A Reading. With the power numbers that he's projected to reach and the ability to increase his average over where he was last season when he made a double-jump in levels, Costanzo has plenty of offensive firepower to like.


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