Anthony Rizzo’s Time Is Now
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Thursday, February.14, 2013
By Alex Kantecki (Cubs Correspondent): Follow @Akantecki
One winter ago, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer acquired First Baseman Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres in exchange for hard-throwing Right-Hander Andrew Cashner, one of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects at the time.
But this wasn’t Epstein’s and Hoyer’s first go-around with the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, who – along with Cubs Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod – drafted Rizzo while serving as Boston’s GM and Assistant GM, respectively, in 2007. The threesome reunited four years later and brought the 23-Year Old star-in-the-making over to the North Side:
“We believe Anthony has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Cubs for a very long time,” Hoyer said (link here). “He still has some development left. We feel what he’s done at age 20 at Double-A and Age 21 at Triple-A was remarkable.”
Anthony Rizzo Highlights From 2012: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:
And what Rizzo has done in his short professional career is truly nothing short of amazing. After missing most of 2008 overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Rizzo’s progression through the Minor Leagues has been fast and steady.
In 2011, Rizzo hit .331/.404/.652 with 26 Home Runs and 104 RBI in 93 Triple-A games. But in his big league call-up, he batted just .141/.281/.242 with 1 Home Run and 9 RBI in 49 games with the Padres, casting doubt whether or not his long swing would play against Major League pitching.
After trading for Rizzo, the Cubs worked on making his swing shorter and he responded with another huge season in Triple-A, where he hit .342/.405/.696 with 23 Home Runs and 48 RBI in 70 games. The Cubs called up Rizzo in late June and he continued to hit, batting .285/.342/.463 with 15 Home Runs and 44 RBI in 87 games. If you add up his 2012 totals between Triple-A and the Cubs, Rizzo hit 38 Home Runs in 652 Plate Appearances, or about one home run every 17 at bats.
When the Cubs traded for Rizzo, ESPN’s Keith law had this to say about the First Baseman (link here):
“He’s got a good feel for the strike zone, evident even during his Major League struggles, and the power to profile as an above-average or better First Baseman on offense. I’d rather have Rizzo than Yonder Alonso, and had Rizzo spent all of 2011 mashing in AAA, this trade would be viewed as a heist for the Cubs.”
So far, it looks like the Cubs stole Rizzo away from the Padres, a team that felt Alonso was a better long-term fit in San Diego’s Petco Park. Last year, Cashner pitched 46.1 Innings (mostly out of the bullpen), finishing the year with a 4.37 ERA and a K/9 of 10.32. He missed time with an oblique injury in 2012, and he’ll likely miss the start of 2013 after slicing his thumb in a winter hunting trip.
Rizzo, meanwhile, enters 2013 as the Cubs full-time First Baseman, and he’ll likely bat third or fourth in the lineup, with the Cubs expecting him to be one of the team’s premiere run producers alongside Alfonso Soriano.
Between Rizzo and Shortstop Starlin Castro, the Cubs have two young stars in the Infield capable of becoming perennial All-Stars. Rizzo profiles as an annual .275 – Batting Average, 30-Home Run threat, starting as soon as 2013. While Rizzo’s first season figures to be a learning curve of sorts, he’s responded to every challenge at every level, and there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again. Bet on Rizzo making his case for Cubs’ MVP in 2013.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of www.mlbreports.com and their partners.***
A big thank-you goes out to our ‘Cubs Correspondent’ Alex Kantecki for preparing today’s featured article. Alex is a Cubs fan to a fault. Sadly, his most memorable Cubs’ moment was watching the Cubs infamous 2003 postseason collapse while on a cruise somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. But because he’s a loyal fan, he didn’t jump ship. Alex has a degree in journalism (yay!), covered prep sports at the Northwest Herald and currently writes for faketeams.com, SB Nation’s fantasy sports blog. He lives north of Chicago, but hates ketchup on hot dogs nonetheless. Follow Alex on Twitter Follow @Akantecki
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Posted on February 14, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball, Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles, MLB Player Profiles and tagged boston red sox, theo epstein, chicago, san diego padres, yonder alonso, anthony rizzo, alfonso soriano, espn, chicago cubs, starlin castro, San Diego, Andrew Cashner, 2013 chicago cubs, Keith Law, alex kantecki, jed hoyer, @akantecki on twitter, jason mcleod. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.