It didn’t take long for Rudy Rott to gain the reputation as a tough out for the Aquinas High School baseball team.
Even as a freshman, the left-handed batter figured out how to make the most of every at-bat he had for the Blugolds and rarely hurt his own chances at the plate.
His swings were consistent and his ability to drive the ball uncanny.
And after tearing up pitcher after pitcher at Aquinas and following it up by doing the same as a first baseman for Ohio University, Rott will test his ability on a new level the rest of this summer.
Rott, of Holmen, was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. He was picked 270th overall as a first baseman and on the second day of a three-day event.
“When I was a kid, I had a lot of goals, and the big one was to play Division I college baseball,” Rott said Tuesday night. “The pros were more like a dream to me.”
That remained true, he said, throughout his career at Ohio. But when the Bobcats had their 2019 season ended in the MAC Tournament, the two-time conference player of the year had to address the possibility head-on.
“All of a sudden, it was attainable,” said Rott, who batted .382 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI as a senior for the Bobcats. “I didn’t want to get my hopes too high, though.”
Then, it happened. Rott saw his name pop up as the Phillies’ ninth-round pick via the MLB Draft Twitter handle.
It was the final step of a process he’d hoped would happen after heavy contact with the Phillies. He even went to Philadelphia on Saturday for a workout with the team and learned from his advisor afterward that the Phillies were targeting him as a possible selection from the seventh to 10th round.
Rott was in La Crosse last week and made sure to find time for batting practice before that trip to work out with the Phillies. It probably seemed like old times for Rudy and his dad (Rudy Sr.) as they returned to analyze swings where it all began.
It didn’t surprise Aquinas coach Scott Bagniefski a bit. He said the Rotts worked incredibly hard on a daily basis throughout his teenage years to turn him into the kind of hitter he is now. But he was also much more than a hitter when he helped the Blugolds advance to the WIAA Division 3 state championship game as a senior.
“One thing that stands out about Rudy is that I have never seen a kid as cerebral as he is about baseball,” Bagniefski said. “He knows the rules of the game, he knows what everyone is supposed to be doing, and I mean all positions.
“He played every position for us during his career and might have played all positions over the course of one season. But he knows what is supposed to be happening all over the field on any given play.”
Rott, a third-team selection to Collegiate Baseball’s All-American team, led Ohio in batting average, hits (81), doubles (18), home runs, RBI, slugging average (.618) and on-base average (.464) as a senior. His batting average ranked 28th nationally in Division I for a team that was 20-34 overall and 12-14 in the MAC. Rott was also 4-for-8 and reached base five times in a 17-inning victory over Miami (37-15) during the MAC Tournament.
The former Tribune baseball player of the year completed his 218-game Ohio career with a batting average of .339, 39 home runs, 168 RBI and 150 runs scored. He hit 60 doubles and three triples, and his 293 hits are the school’s all-time record.
Rott said he has not yet learned where he will play this summer, but the decision should be coming in the next couple of days. Then, the new phase of life begins.
“I have never seen anyone work as hard as him, and that applies to his dad, too,” Bagniefski said. “They were out there every day working on his swing, and they they worked hard to transition from high school to Division I (college).
“Now, we get to see him transition to another level with the Phillies, and that’s exciting.”