Phillies Prospect #31: Matt Rizzotti

Matt Rizzotti hasn't had what anybody would really call a breakout season as a prospect, but he's been consistent and continues to do all the little things right. Breaking out could come at any time for the Manhattan College product.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 6th round of the 2007 Draft.
Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6' 5"   Weight: 235 pounds
Birth Date: December 24, 1985
2009 Team(s): Clearwater
Positions/Games: 1B (28 G)
School: Manhattan College
2009 Ranking: 34

Why Rizzotti moved up to 31: In his time with the Phillies organization, Matt Rizzotti has shown that he's going to work as hard as anybody to improve his game. The result has been consistent improvement and he's begun to slowly garner more and more attention as a prospect. At Clearwater last season, he improved on his power numbers, drove in more runs, kept his average and strikeout numbers close to where they were in 2008 and did it all while moving up a level and collecting slightly less plate appearances. Too many times, young hitters start to emerge in the power numbers, but see a sharp reduction in their peripheral numbers, but that's not the case with Rizzotti.

Category Matt Rizzotti Florida State League
PA/2B 15.5 23.8
PA/3B 404.0 140.5
PA/HR 31.1 70.8
PA/RBI 7.0 10.0
PA/R 9.1 9.1
PA/BB 8.4 12.1
PA/KO 4.4 5.3
AVG .263 .252
OBP .351 .322
SLG .454 .363
Categories with numbers in white show areas where the player outperformed the average player in the their league during the 2009 season. Categories with numbers in black show areas where he was below the league average.

Batting and Power: Rizzotti needed 14 less plate appearances per home run that he hit in 2009 compared to his 2008 season with Lakewood and in the Gulf Coast League. One area that dipped a little last season was his on-base percentage, thanks to a drop in walks. An aggressive hitter, Rizzotti tends to simply work with what a pitcher gives him and not worry about hitting every ball out of the park. It might not hurt him to be just a tad more selective and look more for a pitch that he can drive, while at the same time, not lose that ability to use all fields and hit what he's offered. 

Baserunning and Speed: Pitchers don't need to worry too much about keeping Rizzotti close to the bag when he's on first, because he simply doesn't have much speed. He's only ever attempted two steals - he was successful on one - and he's not known for his speed. He is smart enough though to realize that he doesn't have the greatest speed and doesn't challenge outfielders arms, unless he's sure he'll make it. He's also got good enough baserunning instincts that he doesn't get himself into trouble very often.

Defense: Rizzotti's speed sort of button-holes him into being a first baseman. It's the only position that he's ever played in the minors and figures to be the only one that he ever will play. The good news is that he's at a bare minimum, a good defensive first baseman and does little things - like hitting the pitcher covering first - well. Anything that's fundamental, Rizzotti is likely to be very good at getting done.

Projection: There really wouldn't appear to be much reason for Rizzotti to repeat at Clearwater this season, so he'll probably be a part of the Reading Phillies in 2010. The move to Double-A is a tough one and it's going to be interesting to see how Rizzotti will handle the move. Odds are that he will make any adjustments necessary and wind up with solid numbers again this season as he moves through the Phillies system. For now, he projects as a utility player at the major league level, but that doesn't mean that's where he'll wind up. If the power continues to develop and he can keep the rest of his numbers respectable, Rizzotti could well find himself with a starting job somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

Comparison: It wouldn't be surprising for Rizzotti to wind up having a career much like former Phillie Matt Stairs. Both have raw power, but Rizzotti has the potential to hit for a better average and play defensively at first base, while Stairs was always pretty much of a defensive liability. The other difference is that Stairs' power came from sheer size and a swing hard in case you hit it attitude, while Rizzotti is more of a pure hitter who doesn't need to make every ball a souvenir for a lucky fan sitting beyond the outfield fence. Rizzotti's power comes from solid mechanics and a good approach at the plate.

Matt Rizzotti's career stats

2007 Williamsport 63 215 26 56 19 1 2 27 0 1 30 63 .260
2008 GCL Phillies 4 13 1 7 1 1 0 6 0 0 4 3 .538
2008 Lakewood 102 365 49 98 25 2 10 49 1 1 65 97 .268

combined stats

106 378 50 105 26 3 10 55 1 1 69 100 .278
2009 Clearwater 101 350 44 92 26 1 13 58 0 0 48 91 .263
3 Seasons 270 943 120 253 71 5 25 140 1 2 147 254 .268

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