Phillies Prospect #34: Matt Rizzotti

Not only does Matt Rizzotti have the skills he needs to move through the system, but he's smart enough to make the most out of them.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft.
Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6' 5"   Weight: 235 lbs.
Birth Date: December 24, 1985
2008 Team(s): Lakewood (102 G), GCL (4 G)
Positions/Games: 1B (58), DH (47)
School: Manhattan College
2008 Ranking: 52

Why Rizzotti jumped to #34: Anytime a player - especially one from a relatively small college program - spends just one season in the short-season leagues before advancing and improves on his numbers, that's a good sign. In his first season in the organization, Rizzotti had nice, safe numbers. Nothing to get too excited about, but good enough to show that he had some legitimate tools. At Lakewood this past summer, Rizzotti built on those numbers, not to the point where you would necessarily call it a breakout season, but improved on them enough that he deserves some legitimate credit and merits watching to see where he goes from after a season as a BlueClaw.

Category Matt Rizzotti SAL Average
AB/2B 14.6 19.6
AB/3B 182.5 156.3
AB/HR 36.5 49.4
AB/RBI 7.4 8.1
AB/R 7.4 7.3
AB/BB 5.6 11.1
AB/KO 3.8 4.4
AVG .268 .257
OBP .380 .325
SLG .430 .382
Categories with numbers in white show areas where Rizzotti outperferformed the average player in the South Atlantic League during the 2008 season. Categories with numbers in black show areas where he was below the league average.

Batting and Power: If there is an area of his game, where the 22 year old Rizzotti truly shows his maturity, it's at the plate. He's not the type of hitter who goes up there and looks to hit a home run every time or looks only for his pitch that he can hit to where he wants to hit. Instead, he's smart enough to realize that the pitcher won't always give him a pitch that he can do too much with, so he just does what he can with what he's given. In other words, he doesn't over think things and sometimes, the smartest hitters are the ones who don't think too much. It's a good thing for Rizzotti that he's blessed with natural skills at the plate, because it isn't easy to use his approach to hitting. As for power, while he's not looking to hit home runs, Rizzotti has natural power and good enough mechanics that he's able to hit home runs when he's got something to hit. The fact that he's patient at the plate and has a good eye also help him to find his pitch and do with it what he can.

Baserunning and Speed: Rizzotti's a pretty big guy and doesn't have a lot of speed. In fact, first base is probably the only position that he could play defensively, because he's lacking in speed and quickness. His baserunning skills are good enough to keep him out of trouble on the bases and he understands his limitations. 

Defense: While he's not quick around the bag, he does what he has to do to succeed. He's good at scooping balls in the dirt and is continuing to get better as he continues to work on his skills. He's going to make the routine plays and has an accurate arm that enables him to throw out runners headed to other bases and start double-plays.

Projection: So far, so good, with Matt Rizzotti. He's doing all the Phillies can ask of him and handled the jump to Clearwater well. There doesn't appear to be any reason why he can't continue to succeed and move through the system. He works hard at his game, which combined with his natural skills, gives him an edge. The Phillies don't have a lot of really good first base prospects in their system right now and while Rizzotti doesn't have superstar written all over him, he looks like he's going to be a quality first baseman, who will give a team dependable fielding and can develop into a slightly above average hitter with some decent power potential. He should head off to Clearwater for 2009 and looks to have the skill to compete at that level without any difficulty. Rizzotti is also a likeable guy with a good attitude to life off the field. His "hobby" is looking for charities on the internet and then finding ways to help them. You have to root for a guy like that.

ETA: Generally, guys with Rizzotti's background don't move at a level-per-season pace, but Rizzotti could be an exception. His next true obstacle will likely be when he's asked to make the jump to Double-A, which might slow him a little either after he initially makes the jump or if he's held back a little before moving up so he can build some confidence before making the jump.

Comparison: Rizzotti could turn out to be a more disciplined and trimmed down version of John Kruk. A guy who will make the basic plays at first base, hit a few home runs and bat for a decent average. While Kruk finished his career with an even .300 batting average - thanks to some quick math after getting a base hit for the White Sox and then immediately announcing his retirement - Rizzotti likely won't hit quite that high, but a mid-.270 to low-.280 average certainly isn't out of the question. Of course, he could also average a little over the ten home runs per season that Kruk managed.

Matt Rizzotti's Career Stats

2007 Williamsport 2 27 .260 63 215 26 56 19 1 0 0% 30 63 .355 .386
2008 GCL 0 6 .538 4 13 1 7 1 1 0 - 4 3 .611 .769
2008 Lakewood 10 49 .268 102 365 49 98 25 2 1 50% 65 97 .380 .430
TOTALS 12 82 .272 169 593 76 161 45 4 1 33% 99 163 .377 .422

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