The last time Anthony Rizzo was on Major League team, it was during the final months of the 2011 season with the San Diego Padres.
That also could be when Rizzo’s status as a can’t miss, top first base prospect came into question. Rizzo struggled with the San Diego Padres in his brief stint in the Major Leagues last season. Rizzo hit .141/.281/.242 with the Padres last season in 128 at bats. The Padres may have been quick to pass judgement on the 22 year old first baseman. As during the off-season, the Padres acquired Yonder Alonso from the Cincinnati Reds in a trade that could have been perceived as the Padres giving up on Rizzo. Though, to Rizzo’s credit, no team should ever give up on a 22 year old prospect.
Nonetheless, a created an opportunity for the Chicago Cubs. More specifically, an opportunity for Cubs’ president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to once again be united with Rizzo. Rizzo was drafted by the Red Sox while Epstein was the general manager in Boston, and Hoyer trade for Rizzo as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
The expectations for Rizzo from Cubs fans has mirrored their expectations for the Epstein regime as a whole. The high expectations could be a result from the tremendous success that Rizzo is currently having with the Iowa Cubs. Rizzo is hitting .345/.408/.702 with the Iowa Cubs this season to go along with 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. When Rizzo got off to a hot start to begin the season with the Iowa Cubs, I figured that he would eventually hit a slump and that he would be forced to make an adjustment. But, no adjustments have been needed. Rizzo has been hitting everything that has been thrown at him.
The only adjustment that Rizzo is going to have to make is the adjustment from the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues. Rizzo is on the verge of being promoted to the Major League level. Recent reports have speculated that Rizzo will be in the Cubs’ starting lineup by Tuesday. One possible scenario has Rizzo hitting fifth in the Cubs lineup behind Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano. Rizzo, who figures to be a gold glove candidate, will play first base while LaHair will move to right field. A move that will send David DeJesus to center field.
The only suggestion I have for Cubs fans is patience. I know, I am preaching something that Cubs fans have shown for the past 103 soon to 104 years. But, Cubs fans have been salivating at the idea of Rizzo being in the Cubs lineup since the off-season. In fact, Rizzo has probably been the most popular player talked about throughout the entire Cubs’ organization. Rizzo’s move signals the beginning of Epstein and Hoyer’s implementation of players on the Major League roster that fit their criteria for the long-term future of the organization. That process will continue with the likes of Brett Jackson, and albeit still a few years away, but Javier Baez and Albert Almora as well.
For now lets just enjoy the fact that Rizzo provides a perfect reason to continue to watch Cubs games this season, the same way Starlin Castro did in 2010.