Simon Muzziotti has had some strange travels on his way through the Phillies organization. Of course, 2020 was a washout because of COVID and then last season, lingering issues with COVID complicated the process of obtaining a visa and he missed most of the season, playing in just 20 games, the last eight of which were at Triple-A with Lehigh Valley.
As the 2022 season approached, Muzziotti figured to be heading back to Lehigh Valley until a strange twist of events ushered in a change of plans. Mickey Moniak, who put up big spring training numbers. got hurt in the final spring training game of the season and was placed on the IL. Being short on bodies, the Phillies ran down the list of options on the 40-man roster and found Simon Muzziotti. Instead of starting at Lehigh Valley, Muzziotti was in Philadelphia and made his MLB debut on April 11.
“It was amazing,” said Muzziotti when the thought of his first MLB game was brought up in the conversation. “I never thought I would make that move early in the year, maybe later. It was a really good experience. To get to play with the big league players was amazing.”
After spending most of April with the Phillies, Muzziotti was optioned out but not to Lehigh Valley. Instead, the Phillies sent him back to Double-A Reading to get steady playing time for the first time since the 2019 season. Unfortunately, a hamstring strain sent him to the IL and cost him about a month of the season. After struggling when he first came off of the IL, Muzziotti picked up the pace and from July 16 to August 7, hit .359 (23-for-64) with hits in 14 of the 16 games he played.
At that point, the Phillies had seen enough and moved him up to Lehigh Valley where he went 1-for-4 in his first game of the season with Lehigh Valley Tuesday night.
“Baseball never changes, it’s just the pitching is better,” said Muzziotti of the moves through the system that he has faced. “The game is really quick but I try to find a good adjustment for my hitting. I also work on positioning for defense. It helps that I was here for a little last year and I can watch games and adjust to how quick it is at this level and I am more used to playing at this level.”
Adding to the comfort level is the fact that Muzziotti, who played in the Arizona Fall League last season, was managed by Anthony Contreras, who was later hired by the Phillies to manage at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I had Muzziotti in the Fall League and he was able to roam around for us and play all three outfield positions,” remembers Contreras. “He is very athletic and talented and able to fit in at all three positions. He and (Dalton) Guthrie will rotate through all three spots. He’s got a little bit of big league experience and will get the majority of playing time in center field.”
The Phillies hope that they have the right combination of center fielders in Philly with Matt Vierling and Brandon Marsh, who was acquired from the Angels at the trade deadline. Muzziotti could again be a victim of circumstances though when September arrives. Prior to this season, teams could expand their roster to 40 players but that has changed and they are now allowed to add just two players to the MLB roster. It’s unlikely that Muzziotti will be one of the two to be added as teams will likely look to add pitching and/or possibly another catcher to the roster.