Yankees prospect Roc Riggio primed for success in the Big Apple

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Michael Bennington
Wednesday July 12, 2023

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NEW YORK – The Yankees’ fourth-round draft pick Roc Riggio is already groomed to fit the bill in the Bronx. He has already demonstrated that he possesses the resilience and composure to thrive under pressure and carry the burden of expectations on his back.

During his time playing second base for Oklahoma State, the 21-year-old prospect not only displayed impressive skills but also garnered national recognition for his memorable home run celebrations. These experiences have undoubtedly prepared Roc Riggio for the possibility of donning iconic pinstripes in the future.

Roc Riggio has demonstrated his embrace of being a focal point, expressing his preference for facing challenges head-on. He has shown a strong belief in his ability to handle any adversity that comes his way, unlike some who may struggle with it. Riggio’s confidence and resilience make him well-equipped to handle the pressures and expectations that come with being a target on the field.

Roc Riggio’s Yankee swag

The second baseman created a buzz during the 2022 NCAA Tournament Regional with his unique home run celebration. After hitting a homer, Roc Riggio showcased his individuality by performing a tiptoed strut while approaching the third base, raising his arms triumphantly in the air.

The spectacle unfolded as a result of a playful dare from Roc Riggio’s teammates, who encouraged him to channel Johnny Depp’s iconic character, Jack Sparrow, from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. This imitation roused frustration among their opponent that day, the University of Arkansas. However, for those familiar with the Oklahoma State dugout, it was simply Roc being Roc, showcasing his true nature.

Despite facing criticism from the crowd and beyond, Roc Riggio, who was just a freshman at the time, appeared unfazed by the negativity. On the contrary, he responded with a 16-second sprint around the basepaths after hitting his next home run against Arkansas, showcasing a strong sense of sarcasm in his actions.

Roc Riggio highlighted the significance of prioritizing heart over height, acknowledging that his smaller stature necessitates an added competitive edge. He expressed his commitment to embodying a tenacious playing style, characterized by aggressive slides into second base and the willingness to assist his opponents after making forceful plays. Riggio emphasized the importance of maintaining respect for the game while simultaneously finding joy in the sheer love of playing.

Why Yankees opted for him

Roc Riggio’s skill set has drawn comparisons from MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds to the energetic playing style exhibited by former Red Sox standout Dustin Pedroia.

According to OSU first-base coach Jordy Mercer, a former Yankees player, who had a decade-long career in the Majors (including a brief tenure with the Yankees in 2020), Roc Riggio embodies the epitome of a ballplayer. Mercer expressed his admiration for Riggio’s skills and attitude to the Tulsa World.

Mercer commented that Roc Riggio exhibits a remarkable sense of calmness and relaxation in pressure-packed situations with significant importance. This is what the Yankees need from players in the face of vocal fans in the Bronx.

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Roc Riggio’s baseball journey began in his Simi Valley, Calif., home, where he dedicated numerous hours to honing his skills in the backyard batting cage. His talent and dedication led him to excel at Thousand Oaks (Calif.) High School, where he left an indelible mark by setting school records in various categories. In his senior year, Roc Riggio showcased his power with 12 home runs, demonstrated exceptional plate discipline with 45 walks, and crossed the plate 52 times, leaving a lasting legacy at the school.

In addition to his accomplishments in high school, Roc Riggio had the honor of representing Team USA’s 15U national team and winning a gold medal in 2017. His talent and potential did not go unnoticed, as he was selected by the Brewers in the 11th round of the 2021 MLB Draft. However, Riggio chose not to sign with the Brewers, keeping his options open for the future.

After facing some challenges in his freshman year, including shoulder surgery and a less impressive performance in the Cape Cod League, Roc Riggio bounced back and played a crucial role for Oklahoma State in the recent season.

In 59 games, Riggio displayed an impressive slash line of .335/.461/.679, along with 17 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs, and 61 RBIs. He demonstrated a keen eye for the strike zone, drawing 46 walks while striking out 48 times.

According to OSU head baseball coach Josh Holliday, he has observed significant growth and maturity in Riggio, which he attributes to the experiences he has had over the past few years. He believes that Roc Riggio has developed a better understanding of the challenges that come with playing baseball and the inevitable ups and downs that accompany the sport. Holliday commended Riggio for his ability to navigate through difficult times and not allow setbacks to consume his mindset. He sees Roc Riggio’s growth and maturity as a positive sign of his development both on and off the field, emphasizing that this is part of the college experience.

And now, it seems that Riggio is embarking on a new journey as he prepares to enter the world of professional baseball. The next phase of his career awaits him, and the opportunities that come with playing at the pro level are within reach.

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