With almost nothing worth watching on the big league roster outside of Patrick Wisdom’s magical push for NL Rookie Of The Year, the Chicago Cubs finally gave us another reason to care when they called up Alfonso Rivas after placing David Bote on the IL this week.
Rivas, acquired in the 2020 offseason from Oakland in exchange for Tony Kemp, is a natural first baseman who has also seen time in the outfield and has offensive potential that should excite Cubs fans.
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This year with Triple-A Iowa, Rivas had a solid .284 batting average, an eye popping .405 on-base percentage and a respectable .411 slugging percentage. He bats from the left side and definitely profiles as more of a high plate discipline-high contact bat than a slugging first baseman.
These tools have translated well for Rivas at every level he’s played thus far, as he has posted an above average OPS at every level of the minor leagues he’s played at since 2017.
All of this considered, there is reason for optimism when it comes to whether or not Rivas could be the heir apparent to longtime Chicago first baseman and fan favorite Rizzo. There’s no reason to believe his great discipline won’t carry over into the big leagues, and with solid contact and power, Rivas can certainly be a quality offensive player in the majors. Rivas also isn’t a liability in the field, although hoping for Rizzo-like defense is certainly a little lofty.
Since the trade deadline, the Cubs have often turned to Frank Schwindel to handle things at first – and they’ve quietly gotten pretty impressive performances from him, as well. The former 18th-rounder is batting .344/.396/.613 in over 100 at-bats with Chicago. We could head into next spring with Rivas and Schwindel battling it out for the starting job to open the season.
While Rivas certainly doesn’t project as a superstar, expecting every player the team brings up in the coming years to be the next iteration of Rizzo or Kris Bryant is completely unrealistic. Rivas doesn’t need to be a superstar for the Cubs to be good in the future, but if he’s an above average bat, Rivas could be the answer at first base going into the future. He is just 24, and hopefully will be the first of many successful players the Cubs bring up going into the future.