Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Prospect Watch: Anthony Rizzo

The Chicago Cubs went through some big changes during the off-season. Most notably is that they acquired Theo Epstein from the Boston Red Sox. Epstein is currently the President of Baseball Operations for the club. Jed Hoyer also became their General Manager. The Cubs also found their first baseman of the future when they traded for Anthony Rizzo

The past couple of seasons Anthony Rizzo has been a hot name on the trade market. He was originally traded to the San Diego Padres in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. He posted excellent numbers while he was in AAA for the Padres, but in 153 plate appearances in the show he struggled. Rizzo is still young, he's only 22 and doesn't turn 23 until August so he has plenty of time to get adjusted to the majors.

Last year he posted really good numbers across the board. He showed good plate discipline by walking 10% of the time, and striking out around 21% of the time. The big thing he showed though his was his substantial power. He posted an extremely impressive .320 ISO. He did get quite a bit of help from his .369 BABIP though, so he would have eventually experienced some regression. His final line in AAA was an oustanding .331/.404/.652 (149 wRC+). In the majors he struggled mightily. He struck out about one-third of the time, and showed virtually no power. He was a victim of BABIP, but also remember that he only had a little over 150 PA, a very small sample size.

He's off to another hot start so far this season as well. He's walking 2% less than last season, but has cut his strikeouts down by 3%. The big power has returned as well, his ISO currently sits at .306. As long as he can adjust to the majors his power should stick around. Like last season he's getting help from his .379 BABIP, so he should experience a little regression as the season goes on. His slash line currently looks like the following: .351/.416/.657 (180).

It's unlikely that Bryan LaHair keeps up his production all season long, and if he starts to struggle then the Cubs have a viable replacement. Rizzo is also a left handed batter so he can help give the line-up some balance. The Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and Rizzo gives them a potential franchise player.

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