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Big Hurt got Rizzo started down GM path

Aug 21, 2009, 1:15 PM EST

Earlier this week the Nationals removed the “acting” tag and made Mike Rizzo general manager, choosing him over Diamondbacks vice president of player personnel Jerry DiPoto and Red Sox assistant general manager Jed Hoyer. Between making trades and signing No. 1 picks for $15 million Rizzo has been in the spotlight recently, but Bill Ladson of MLB.com wrote about how he got started down the GM path:
In 1989, Mike Rizzo was a Midwest and Southeast territorial scout for the White Sox. That year, Rizzo, then 28, scouted a player named Frank Thomas from Auburn University. Rizzo insisted that the White Sox draft the right-handed hitting slugger in the first round, but Thomas was not a consensus pick among members of the organization
“I learned how to go after a player passionately, fight for your player and fight to draft the right guy at the right spot,” Rizzo said 20 years later. The White Sox ended up drafting Thomas in the first round of the 1989 First-Year Player Draft. Not too long after that, Rizzo helped Chicago negotiate Thomas’ first professional contract.
It was the first time Rizzo ever dealt with a player agent for such a large sum of money. Thomas signed and ended up having a great career in the big leagues, hitting .301 with 521 home runs, 1,704 RBIs and two American League MVP awards. “It was the shining point of my career.” Rizzo said.

Convincing the team you scout for to draft one of the 20 greatest hitters of all time is apparently a good way to establish yourself in the baseball world, although to be fair my guess is that there were at least a few other people within the organization who didn’t mind taking Thomas with the No. 7 overall pick.

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