Rizzo Mashes His Way To Chicago





Best Player: Theo Epstein's primary offseason acquisition, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, looks like the lefthanded power hitter the Cubs haven't been able to develop within their system. The Padres soured on him when he batted .141 in 49 games last season and traded him after landing Yonder Alonso to play first. Rizzo wasn't daunted by his second trade or being given no chance to win a job in spring training. He went to Triple-A Iowa to make adjustments on a swing scouts said was too long. He succeeded in cutting down strikeouts and using the whole field without sacrificing power. When the Cubs promoted him to Chicago on June 25, he was leading the Pacific Coast League with 23 home runs while hitting .342/.404/.696. Rizzo is also considered an excellent defensive first baseman, and scouting director Jason McLeod says he has the best makeup of any prospect he's ever seen.

Biggest Leap Forward: After a solid 2011 season at low Class A Peoria, high-octane shortstop Arismendy Alcantara has opened eyes at high Class A Daytona, hitting .298/.326/.428 with 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts. The 20-year-old switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic earned midseason all-star honors. He is tough from both sides of the plate. He can drive mistakes, but his strength is putting the ball in play and using his speed. He will need to make major strides in his fielding—he commited 40 errors last season and had 31 at midseason this year. He's not moving around the field as much this year as in past seasons, which could help him improve.

Biggest Disappointment: Acquired alongside Travis Wood and Dave Sappelt from the Reds in the Sean Marshall trade, 5-foot-9, 140-pound second baseman Ronald Torreyes was described as a "hit machine" during spring training. He should have saved some of them for the regular season, however, as after 60 games he was hitting just .236/.307/.354 for Daytona. To his credit, the 19-year-old is one of the youngest players in the Florida State League and has remained difficult to strikeout. It's likely he'll turn things around in the second half. But he's hardly continued the career arc he had playing beside Billy Hamilton a year ago.

Cubbyhole

•  Righthander P.J. Francescon continues to pitch well after a promotion that cost him a spot in the Midwest League all-star game. He was 5-3, 2.40 through his first 15 starts with a .190 opponents average.

• Second baseman Zeke DeVoss was a Midwest League all-star. Through 65 games, he had used 40 walks to turn a .247 average into a .371 on-base percentage.