The Washington Nationals announced the inaugural Phil Rizzo Scout of the Year Award on Thursday. The award will be given annually to the Washington Nationals scout who represents the integrity, character, and work ethic exemplified by Phil Rizzo. Steve Arnieri, Special Assistant to the President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, is the first winner. The award will be presented annually at the baseball Winter Meetings. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Arnieri has been with the Nationals since the fall of 2006 when he joined the organization as an area supervisor scouting amateur players in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and Canada. He was named Special Assistant to the President of Baseball Operations and General Manager on Dec. 23, 2014. Arnieri provided extensive scouting reports on Trea Turner, Joe Ross, Blake Treinen, Drew Storen, Tanner Roark and Aaron Barrett. He was a trusted voice in the recent signings of Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester and he is credited with signing eventual Major Leaguers Jordan Zimmermann, James Bourque, and Jake Smolinski out of the First-Year Player Draft.
Prior to joining the Nationals, Arnieri covered the same region for the San Francisco Giants from 1999-2006. He spent three seasons (1996-98) as an associate scout for the Boston Red Sox and from 1991-95, he scouted the Midwest for the Chicago White Sox organization. He began his scouting career as an associate scout for the Chicago White Sox in 1988 and stayed there until 1989 before a stint as the hitting coach for Rookie-Level Butte (TEX) in 1990. From 1982-87, Arnieri served as the hitting coach for the University of Illinois where he worked alongside Mike Rizzo, then a graduate assistant on the coaching staff.
“We created this award to both recognize an outstanding member of our scouting department and honor the memory of my dad who had a tremendous impact not only on my life but on the scouting community throughout all of Major League Baseball,” said President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “I have known Steve since we coached together at the University of Illinois in 1985. We’ve scouted together our whole careers. Not just for the last 16 seasons in Washington, but with Boston and Chicago. He’s one of the best scouts in the game and he has been a huge part of the success we’ve had over the years. He embodies all of the traits of what this award means and I cannot think of a better scout to be the inaugural winner.”
“I’m honored and humbled to be the first recipient of this award,” said Steve Arnieri. “The fact that it bears Phil Rizzo’s name means even more to me, since he served as a true scouting mentor and trusted friend to so many of us. Scouting is baseball and baseball is life to all of us. I’m proud to be a part of the best true scouting organization in Major League Baseball.”
Phil Rizzo spent 11 seasons as a Senior Advisor to his son, Mike Rizzo, Washington’s President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. He was named to the position on Dec. 3, 2009, at the time bringing more than 40 years of scouting experience to the organization.
Phil joined his son for the second time in their respective careers when he was hired by the Nationals in 2009. The two also worked together for seven seasons (1999-2005) with Arizona, where Phil was a Diamondbacks Special Assignment Scout.
While with the Diamondbacks, Rizzo made the first call and filed the first report on University of Kentucky right hander Brandon Webb, who won the 2006 NL Cy Young Award and represented Arizona in three All-Star Games.
In addition to his time with the Nationals and Diamondbacks, Rizzo’s 50-year career in baseball included stints as a scout in the Chicago area for the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees.
Rizzo is also credited with signing, among others, right-handed pitcher Bob Wickman, left-handed pitcher Bob Kipper, catcher Mike Matheny, infielder Dick Schofield and infielder Mark Loretta.
In May of 2008, Rizzo was one of eight scouts to comprise the inaugural class of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.
Phillip “Butch” Rizzo passed away at age 90 on Feb. 1, 2020. Phil led his family with the values of hard work, grit and loyalty. His impact on the Washington Nationals and the professional baseball scouting community will not be forgotten.