Anthony Rizzo could very well be this summer's blockbuster attraction in the big leagues. The only thing stopping Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' front office from pulling him up already has been the performance of Bryan LaHair (.312/.402/.596 with 10 homers in 164 PAs).
Rizzo, who'll be 23 in August, is truly a man among little boys at Triple-A Iowa this year, where he's hitting .354 with 17 long balls and 46 RBIs in 181 at-bats. Hoyer, who was the GM in San Diego last year when Rizzo was brought up and struggled (.141-1-9 in 49 games) doesn't want to make the same mistake twice, though.
Still, it appears as though Hoyer is close to deeming Rizzo ready. Scouting and player development vice president Jason McLeod certainly thinks the time is near for Rizzo: "He's in his finishing stages now. It shouldn't be too long before he's up here. I think he'll be a better player for going through that last year."
The results and stats aren't the only thing the Cubbies' brass is focusing on, clearly. McLeod noted that Rizzo has noticeably been working on mechanical adjustments and his day-to-day routine, report Cash Kruth and Carrie Muskat.
Of concern in his previous minor league stops and his brief taste of the majors in 2011 were his strikeouts. Rizzo fanned at a rate of 30.1 percent with the Padres last year and was above 20 percent in his minor league stops past high A ball with the Boston Red Sox and Friars. With Iowa he's lowered that to 18.5 percent (37 K's, 17 BBs).
Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have been unleashed upon the major league scene, and it's Rizzo's time now. He, along with LaHair, can give the Cubs a formidable power tandem for years to come. There's a reason why Epstein and Hoyer have put in the leg work to keep Rizzo in their possession with three different clubs. This kid will be special if he continues to progress as a hitter and limit his whiffs.
There isn't an exact date for when he'll be summoned from the farm, but you shouldn't wait if you want a piece of this action on your fantasy baseball roster - keeper leaguers should hopefully own him already. Don't wait for the midnight showing of this upcoming summer attraction; grab him and stash him now, even if you don't think you have the room. It'll cost you close to nothing now, so why not?
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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