Murmurs grew into fact quickly today: the Chicago Cubs will finally call up slugging prospect Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo came out of a Triple-A game Monday afternoon and was later seen leaving the ballpark, bats in hand. How the Cubs will fit Rizzo into their lineup doesn’t matter too much for the Cubs (they’re the Cubs) but it is good news for a team sorely lacking in the good news department.
Rizzo flies into the wind, at the track. And that’s it. He’s out of the game.
— Harry Pavlidis (@harrypav) June 25, 2012
Anthony Rizzo is an incredibly talent first baseman who is posting wacky numbers in the offense-wacky PCL. At just 22-years old, he represents a significant piece of the future in Wrigleyville. Of course, the runaway hype for Rizzo — more than Cubs manager Dale Sveum thinks he has ever seen before — can only float expectations higher than they any player can rightly expect.
In addition to crushing AAA this season, Rizzo destroyed the Pacific Coast League as a member of the San Diego Padres organization in 2011, posting a .433 wOBA in 413 plate appearances. This performance earned him a June call up to the big club. For a number of reasons, Rizzo was spectacularly bad in this first run through the league. He hit just .143/.282/.265 with one home run in 117 plate appearances.
After returning to the minors for the month of August (where he again raked), Rizzo was even worse during his September trial with the Padres. Foolish as it might be to suggest this tiny cameo informed in the decision, the Padres agreed to ship Rizzo to the Cubs in the Andrew Cashner trade.
The gaudy numbers Rizzo posted during his runs through the PCL are nothing new for the left-handed power bat. He posted great numbers at all levels of the minors, racing through the Red Sox system before serving as the cornerstone of Adrian Gonzalez trade. Comparing Rizzo’s numbers are from his early days in more pitcher-friendly leagues like the Gulf Coast, Sally, and Carolina Leagues provide stark contrast to his juicy PCL numbers.
Parkes touched on the delays in Rizzo’s callup a month ago.The service time concerns are real as ever but there is another point to consider: the PCL is a house of lies.
Cubs fans have another image of a hitting saviour fresh in their minds, one who tantalized them just a few short years ago. While he was older and, well, not a shiny prospect star, Jake Fox put up unbelievable numbers with the Cubs triple-A affliatte in Iowa just three years ago. Look upon this batting line, ye mighty, and despair.
Jake Fox, as I’m sure you know, is not actually the second coming of Ted Williams. He is just a guy, a guy back in the minors after hitting 20 home runs and posting a .714 OPS over 500 PAs in four big league seasons.
Anthony Rizzo is not Jake Fox. But the PCL is not the Major Leagues. Not by a damn sight. Anthony Rizzo stands a much, much, much, much greater chance of succeeding at the big league than Jake Fox did when he posted his crazy stretch. But caution is required, if only for this season. For the sanity of everyone involved, please heed this warning.