9th round pick Rott makes Crosscutters debut

Rudy Rott isn’t an angry person by nature. But he learned over the course of four year at Ohio University how to play baseball angrily. In fact, a friend’s dad once told him he needed to hate the pitcher when he stepped in the batter’s box.

It’s a trait he’s carried with him through the final years of his college career. Rott plans on carrying that trait with him now that he’s begun his professional career with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The ninth-round pick in the MLB Draft earlier this month made his professional debut Saturday against Batavia.

“I’m happy to be here now,” Rott said. “My college career was awesome and I had a lot of fun. But I’m thrilled to be here and excited to have this opportunity.”

That it took this long for Rott to begin his college career is quite remarkable. He is a two-time Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and was a third-team All-American this year. But when he was selected by the Phillies in the ninth round, it’s the first time the Wisconsin native had been drafted.

He went undrafted after a junior season in which he had a 1.095 OPS and hit 15 home runs and drove in 50 runs. He had a career .977 OPS and hit .339 in four years as a starter with the Bobcats.

“I had a couple calls, but not a lot of interest late in my junior season,” Rott said. “Based on my numbers, I thought I had a chance. But based on what I knew about the draft and talking to people about the draft, I thought I might not get picked.”

It’s part of the reason why the 6-foot, 212-pound first baseman plays with the chip on his shoulder. It’s helped him take his game to the next level. He already knows he can hit. His college numbers prove just that and he’s putting a ton of work into his defense to make it another strength in his game.

When he wasn’t drafted as a junior, he needed a little something to take his game to the next level, and it’s largely where he learned to play with a little bit of anger. He posted a career-best .382 batting average this spring, along with a career-best .464 on-base percentage.

“I’m not a super angry guy, but when you get on the field, you have to have a little anger and a little swagger in what you do,” Rott said. “When getting drafted didn’t happen, it was a little disappointing. But it made me work harder and get back here and have my game in a better place than it was last year.”

Baseball has always been a part of Rott’s family. His grandfather was a pitcher for the Marines during World War II and then pitched in the Florida State League following his time in the military. His father, Rudy Sr., was a solid high school player who had opportunities to play in college, but chose not to pursue them.

Rott didn’t exactly grow up in baseball hot bed in Holmen, Wisconsin, which is located south of Eau Claire. But he was fortunate to get hooked up with Greg Reinhard and his newly former baseball academy to play summer ball while still in high school. Rott played on one of his teams from ages 14 to 17.

That was where Rott was able to grow the seed of baseball which was planted in his family long ago. And by continuing to play baseball, he can honor the family legacy his grandfather started.

“Baseball is definitely big in my family,” Rott said. “So I think me and my dad have worked really hard to carry on my grandpa’s legacy a little bit.”