Former Aquinas star Rudy Rott talks offseason full of uncertainty

As Major League Baseball negotiates a potential return to play, the 2020 minor league season being canceled is essentially a foregone conclusion. But since nothing is set in stone, it’s got minor league guys like former Aquinas star Rudy Rott stuck in limbo.

Rott was a ninth round pick by the Phillies in last summer’s MLB Draft after a successful four-year college career at Ohio. This summer was set to be his second in pro ball, and he remembers being at spring training for a week when he got the bad news.

“We came in, they told us we had the weekend off, and then we’d talk again Sunday,” Rott recalled. “And I think it was Sunday night or afternoon, we went in and they said, you’re all going home.”

Since then, Rott hasn’t heard from his organization about what the status of their season is, putting him and countless other athletes in a tough spot.

“Now we’re two and a half months into it. I just want to know–am I going back next month, am I going back in October, am I not going back until next spring?” Rott said. “That’s the hardest part for me right now. Should I be building up toward something or cooling it to give my body a little break here, and then hitting it hard next month or something like that?”

As for his personal career, Rott says he struggled in the pros last summer, with an average of under .240 and an OBP just over .300. It was a stark contrast to his college self, a two-time MAC Player of the Year and all-time Ohio hits leader. And at the root of the lower numbers was a mentality he had.

“It was one of the first times after I got drafted where I sat back for that week before I went and just thought about everything that happened the last eight years,” Rott said. “After high school I rolled right into college. The week after state I left for college, so it was one of those things where it hit me all at once, like man, this is pretty cool. And I think it kind of took that mental state into the summer–enjoy everything, take it all in, and it wasn’t how I’ve always been–put your head down and go to work. I was a little loose, and I had basically every bad habit I’ve ever had at the plate was all going on at once. So I didn’t feel like it was the level of play so much as it was myself not being in a good spot.

“I hadn’t struggled like that in a long time, so it was good–humbling–to remember where you’re at, get back to work and ready to go. I felt like I got back to spring training in a better place than I’ve ever been mentally and physically. I’m excited for when we do get to play again and what I feel I can do.”

While Rott may not play this year, does he think we’ll have Major League Baseball this summer?

“I don’t think so, based on what I saw the owners offered up, it’s tough,” Rott said. “I know a lot of people are, ‘Players are selfish, how could you not accept? Oh, the poor guy’s only going to make $8 million instead of $40 million.’ But I mean, when you’re offering, you’re going to play 50 percent of a season and they’re going to pay you 20 percent of your money, I don’t think many people in the real world would actually do that.”

The Phillies have committed to paying their minor leaguers their $400 a week through June, but after that, Rott doesn’t know what’s in store. In the meantime, Rott is making some money holding individual hitting lessons in the area.

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