Anthony Rizzo Is In Big Leagues To Stay This Time
CHICAGO—Anthony Rizzo isn't afraid to carry high expectations. That's a good thing because he just keeps raising them.
Rizzo, acquired from the Padres in January for Andrew Cashner, was the most productive hitter in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League until joining the Cubs on June 26. He batted .342/.405/.696 for Iowa and just continued to hit in Chicago, batting .338/.357/.574 with four home runs in his first 17 games as Dale Sveum's new first baseman.
"I'm here to stay," Rizzo said.
Rizzo probably thought the same thing when he arrived in San Diego last season. He had been tearing up the PCL with Tucson but hit .141 with one homer in 128 at-bats for the Padres. New Padres GM Josh Byrnes concluded that he wasn't built for Petco Park. He added Yonder Alonso from the Reds and let Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know that Rizzo was available.
"I was the savior last year too, and that's why I think it's easier this year to come up," Rizzo said. "Hopefully this is just a building block of what is to come here. That's all I can say about that. I think there are a lot of good things to come and hopefully we can look back and this is one of the first steps."
Cubs vice president Jason McLeod has said Rizzo has the best makeup of any player he's ever scouted. He has the ability to hit for average and power while delivering plus defense at first base.
"You don't want to put everything on somebody's shoulders, but I don't believe in coincidences either," Sveum said. "There are times when certain people change the dynamics of a lineup and a team. You can already tell defensively what he's saved, offensively what he's done. There's nothing like having a two-way player."
Hoyer, who had worked with Epstein in Boston, was the Padres' GM when they acquired Rizzo from the Red Sox and took the blame for Rizzo's performance last year, saying he promoted him too soon hoping to create some buzz in San Diego. "We really liked the adjustments he made in spring training this year," Hoyer said. "He lowered his hands, shortened up his swing a little bit. We liked him as a prospect obviously last year, but this go-around in Triple-A, at 22, was more impressive, because of the ballpark and because of some of the adjustments he made."
• Will Josh Vitters be the next prospect to get a look in Wrigley Field? The Triple-A Iowa third baseman is taking more walks. He set a career high on July 5, raising his total to 23. He was hitting .297/.349/.494 and had 13 home runs.
• Third baseman Jeimer Candelario, 18, followed up on a strong 2011 in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League by hitting .294/.331/.444 in his first 32 games with short-season Boise.