Phillies on Deck, Vol. 1: Rizzotti, Overbeck

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, October 16, 2011 06:15 PM | Comments: 21
Fightins, IronPigs, Minor Leagues, Prospecting

Cody Overbeck.

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be taking a look at several young talents within the organization that could make an impact on the Phillies’ big league roster in 2012. With this first edition, we’ll review a couple names that could seize an opportunity due to the Achilles tendon injury that Ryan Howard suffered in the final game of the National League Division Series.

It’s no secret that three-time All-Star first baseman Ryan Howard could possibly miss the start of next season after undergoing surgery on his ruptured left Achilles tendon this past week. While many fans, media members and baseball analysts expect the Phillies to fill the void, next April, with John Mayberry Jr., who played 18 games at first base in 2011, the team will have other in-house options courtesy of a pair of older prospects.

Perhaps the leading option from the minors that could fill in while “The Big Piece” is out of action is 25-year-old Cody Overbeck. The 9th round draft pick from 2008 has been strong on offense in each of the past two seasons, posting a .276 combined average with 48 total homeruns and 154 RBI.

Formerly a third baseman through his first three seasons in the Phillies developmental system, Overbeck dabbled in the outfield and was primarily a first baseman in 2011 with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which clearly increased his versatility.

Overbeck is spending this off-season perfecting his entire game against the tough competition of the Arizona Fall League.

Another potential filler, Matt Rizzotti, who is somewhat of a fan favorite, was seemingly held back this year by the Phillies after the team removed him from their 40-man roster last off-season. Having taken huge strides during the 2010 season, when he posted a combined .360 batting average at Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading to earn a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the final month of the season, Rizzotti missed some time with with the IronPigs due to an injury.

Matt Rizzotti.

Rizzotti’s impressive 2010 continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .333 and had a .500 on-base percentage in 19 games with the Mesa Solar Sox. However, when December came around, “Rizz” found himself subjected to the Rule 5 draft, and went unselected.

Offensively, Rizzotti, who will turn 26-years-old before the 2012 season begins, was strong over the past couple of seasons as well. The Manhattan College alum tallied a .317 batting average with 41 homeruns with 160 RBI over the past two regular seasons.

Often critiqued for his defense, the 6th round draft pick from 2007, Rizzotti, is well aware of his perceived shortcomings and has worked hard to improve in the field and earn a shot at his lifelong dream of reaching the big leagues.

Comparatively, the University of Mississippi product Overbeck outperformed Rizzotti just a shade in the field, posting a .995 fielding percentage in 60 games at first, while Rizzotti had a .988 mark in 96 games.

With plenty of time between now and the outset of the the 2012 season, there’s no definitive answer as to “Who’s got first?” With free agent Raul Ibanez’s spot in left field vacated and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s preference to keep top prospect Domonic Brown down in Triple-A next year, Mayberry could be better suited to spend some time in the outfield, which may open a door for either Overbeck or Rizzotti to land a spot on the big league roster.


Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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About Jay Floyd

Jay Floyd has written 642 articles on Phillies Nation.

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation's minor league insider. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    If good prospects do not get opportunities to play in the majors in reasonable time periods, then what outstanding prospect will select the Phils as a team. It took Utley, Howard, Ruiz and others a long time to make it to the majors. Is Overbeck a viable prospect for third base as well as first base? If he is, then he should get a shot at the bigs.

  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    I agree with Bart on this one. Give the home grown some attention – let OB take a crack at third and I certainly would not mind seeing what the Rizz has to offer at the other corner.

    This could be interesting or a bust.. either way, give it a shot in April.

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    The issue is sitting down a healthy Polanco who makes $6.5 million. When healthy, you have to play Polanco because he can be a .300 hitter. The issue has been he can’t stay healthy. So maybe getting a guy like Overbeck in there can work. But his defense is putrid, from what I’ve read and from what Jay has written. Plus they’ve given him some time at 1B, which probably proves that point.

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    And by “get him in there” I mean maybe making him a bench bat and getting him some ABs. We’re a long way from there, though.

  • Posts: 298 Jay Floyd

    Avatar of Jay Floyd

    I think the main issue for Overbeck at 3rd was range. He never struck me as horrendous over there. With his positional versatility, the Phils clearly value him over Rizz.

    Spoke w/ both Parent & Sandberg about Cody this season and both had really good things to say. Parent said on mult occasions that Rizz still had stuff to work on, which was why he landed back in Reading this yr. The entire scenario was confusing to Rizzotti.

    Either guy deserves a chance to fill that Ross Gload role next season.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Can we trade Charlie the old fk for tony L that’s a manager.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    They wont give either a shot they will take another Rule 5 guy lol. If they give either a chance they will still need a veteran pinch hitter if Gload doesnt come back. Would you really want a rookie bottom of 10th NLDS 2 outs man on 3rd no other pos player available to come in? I say bring one of these 2 guys up now to give them experience to possibly fulfill that role the following year.

  • Posts: 2990 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Leave it to Jeff to say something completely off-topic.

    • Posts: 576 Brian Sr. of CO

      Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

      Maybe we can trade Doom and Gloom Jeff for someone who is a real fan with a clue?

  • Posts: 5152 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    As I understand it, only one out of every hundred drafted players actually has a career in the majors. Many more get a shot, but don’t last that long. It seems that in most (not all) cases if you are playing a fourth or fifth year in the minors, you are a lifer. These guys are 26 and 25 years old. So they are either ready or it’s likely they may never be.

    You don’t bring players up just because they’ve been in the system, their coaches know whether/when they are worthy. While I am “all in” for an infusion of youth for the Phillies, they have to be sensible about it. Rizzottti’s numbers are pretty good, but he has must be lacking in some way. He’s been in the system since 2007, that’s a long time. They apparently have not been able to deal him, and he was not drafted rule 5. Overbeck’s stats are pretty good too. But if he can’t get an invite to ST, he may not have what it takes either.

    I wish the best to both young men, but only want them in the majors if they can actually contribute.

  • Posts: 79 branderson925

    Avatar of branderson925

    Nice article, Jay. I was pretty familiar with Rizz and his stat lines over the past two seasons but for some reason never really put any thought into Overbeck. Not really sure what path the Phils will go but it would be cool to see Rizz in a Phils uniform for a couple of weeks just to experiment. I mean it is April baseball after all.


  • Posts: 0 George

    These two seem to be well down on the list of likely first base options. Given the way they’ve been handled, there is probably something still lacking in their games.

    The front office will probably look at others before they bring up either Rizzotti or Overbeck. Much of what gets done will hinge on how long it takes Howard to heal and who replaces Ibanez in left. This pair will likely be given at bats in ST, but in the long run I think the Phils will probably trade for or sign a veteran.

    Also, concerning Polanco: his injuries this year are definitely a concern, but he may not be as big a risk health-wise as fans think. His elbow was a problem last year, but that was largely the fault of being hit with a Tim Hudson pitch, not the fault of old age.

  • Posts: 3 andy

    Avatar of andy

    I assume they move Cody Overbeck over to first because he was sub par defensively at third?

  • Posts: 2990 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    @ George… Are you the same George that was on here all the time about a year or more ago and then wasn’t for awhile? Or are you another completely new George? Just asking because if you’re the old George I wondered what happened to you as you were a “regular” and it just seemed like you disappeared.

    • Posts: 0 brooks

      I remember Georgie, not a George

  • Posts: 0 George

    Yes, Chuck A, there was a George who posted fairly regularly about a year ago and I am that same George. When the site changed servers and added a bunch of junk, I couldn’t get anything to work, so I stopped commenting.

    Since that time, there have been enough moronic and redundant diatribes posted that I felt no compunction to rebut any ideas or engage in any debates. In short, I had better things to do.

    Things lately seem to have settled down to more reasoned debates rather than the constant
    complaints when the Phils were “barely” winning the division. I think that the discourse has setytled back to sensible debating among true among true fans, and so I have begun to say a few things again.

    I am amazed that someone actually wondered about my disappearance. I’m not surprised, either, that someone wondered about “Georgie.” That’s a name I also remember; she seemed a true fan.

  • Posts: 0 George

    Still can’t type worth snot!

  • Posts: 0 Bob the barber

    Here’s my two cents. MICHEAL YOUNG. Get him. Fills first base until Haoward comes back, and, is insurance for another possible bad, or injury prone year from Polanco or Utley. If they are OK, he is a perfect right handed bat to spell Howard and Utley against tough left handed pitching. (Can he and,or Utley take some fly balls in the outfield to add even more versatilty)?

  • Posts: 0 George

    Michael Young would cost some big talent as well as millions in salary. He’s also older than some of the other options, and despite his big season is not the player he once was. He’s a mediocre defender, too. The Rangers can keep him.

  • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

    I really like Michael Young but I don’t think it’s a great fit. On the surface is might seem ok but when you slice it up, it just doesn’t work. First, there’s the salary… we have a lot of other priorities to address first. Second, there’s a longer-term picture that leaves him without a position. Yes, he’s versatile and extremely valuable because of that but he wants to be paid like an every day player (and likely wouldn’t be happy with a part-time role); if we’re looking for a utility men, there are far cheaper options out there. A guy that I wouldn’t mind bringing in – Omar Infante. Plays multiple positions (played 100+ games at 2B, 3B, SS and OF), great defensive player, he’s right handed, high batting average… didn’t have a great 2010 season in Florida but it’s Florida and we don’t really need him to have a great season. We just need him to step up and get 400-500 AB’s in various roles. Not sure what he’ll be asking but I can’t imagine it would be too much.

  • Posts: 0 Panama corporation

    READING – Life in the minor leagues can be cruel to a young baseball player..Just ask Matt Rizzotti..Rizzotti had a superb 2010 season that saw the 6-foot-5 265-pound slugger play at three levels earn several weekly and monthly accolades and end the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley..Over the winter the power-hitting first baseman played in the Arizona Fall League – where major league teams send their top prospects – and was a featured player on the Philadelphia Phillies Winter Tour stops in Reading and Allentown..The 25-year-old was expected to start the 2011 season in Allentown with the IronPigs just one step away from the major leagues..So why is he back with the Reading Phillies? So Im ready to go..Rizzottis climb in the Phillies organization has been a consistent one..A Floral Park N.Y. native Rizzotti was selected by the Phillies in the sixth round of the June 2007 Major League Amateur Player Draft..He hit .260 in 63 games with the Williamsport Crosscutters A in 2007 played 102 games with.Lakewood low A in 2008 then had a solid season for Single-A Clearwater in 2009 hitting .263 with 26 doubles 13 homers and 58 RBIs in 101 games..Last season Rizzotti jumped three levels beginning in Clearwater where he hit .358 39-for-109 with a homer and 10 RBIs in 31 games..He was promoted to Reading in May and went on a tear hitting .361 96-for-266 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs in 77 games..Rizzotti was the Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for May .377 4 HR 14 RBIs the Eastern League Player of the Week for June 21-27 and the Eastern League Player of the Month for June .369 7 HR 24 RBI ..He had 28 multi-hit games for the R-Phils was selected to the Eastern League All-Star team and participated in the EL Home Run Derby..Rizzotti reached base safely in his final 22 games with Reading 27 hits 22 walks before being promoted to Lehigh Valley in August..It was a dream season Rizzotti said.

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