Anthony Rizzo: Rise to Stardom

Anthony Rizzo’s time in the majors has finally arrived. Originally rumored to be called up Wednesday, Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press reported that Anthony Rizzo is not expected to be called up today but could be promoted by the end of the week. San Diego has been quite cautious with their young star due to an MRI exam on his hand on Tuesday, results of which came back negative. Rizzo injured his hand during a series a week ago in Las Vegas after aggravating a bruise on his left hand. Thankfully, there is hope that the wait for Rizzo could end this week as the Padres current first baseman Brad Hawpe has been taking fly balls in the outfield before games.

Anthony, hailing from my hometown of Parkland, Florida, attended and played for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where he was Broward County’s most dangerous hitter. His Senior season he batted .468 with 40 RBI, was walked 28 times, set the team record with 11 home runs and was named the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Class 6A-5A-4A Player of the Year.

Rizzo was a sixth round draft choice in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Red Sox coming out of high school. Slated to attend Florida Atlantic University, he was drafted and signed with a $325,000 signing bonus. He played in the Red Sox organization with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox and the Portland Sea Dogs.

To make his success story all the more motivating, Anthony was diagnosed at 18 with with Limited Stage Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He basically lost a year of his pro career as he underwent six months of treatment before being pronounced cancer free in November of the same year. I remember him coming to one of my high school games looking like a totally different man as he had lost his girth to the chemo. Winners never quit though, and Rizzo has come back stronger than ever.

On December 6, 2010, Rizzo was traded along with Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson to the Padres for three-time All-Star first baseman Gonzalez. Rizzo was considered the third best prospect (Kelly was #1) and the best power hitting prospect in the Red Sox organization . He shot through the Padres farm system and in 52 games this season for Triple A Tucson, the 21-year-old Rizzo had 16 home runs, 63 RBIs, a .444 on-base percentage and a .715 slugging percentage. In May 2011, The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote that Rizzo’s debut in the Major Leagues might be delayed by the Padres despite the club’s hitting deficiencies due to cost considerations created by the “Super Two” exception for salary arbitration eligibility. The team cited Rizzo’s lack of experience and his limited exposure to left-handed pitching as benefits of him continuing to play in Tuscon.

FANTASY IMPACT

Granted, Petco Park is not a hitters park to say the least, but I do expect the powerful and surprisingly disciplined Rizzo to be a legit  power hitting first baseman as the 2011 season progresses. His Triple A numbers are likely inflated by The Pacific Coast League being  hitter friendly, but don’t think twice about adding Rizzo who, entering this week was only owned in 1% of ESPN Leagues and 3% of Yahoo Leagues. Snag him and stash him owners.

Anthony was listed as the 38th/100 ranked MLB prospect entering the 2011 season.


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