2012 was a big year for youngsters who grabbed headlines. Every night we were treated to a barrage of highlights featuring Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. On the pitching side, we were treated to the Yu Darvish Performance every fifth day for the Texas Rangers. Amazingly, one guy flew under the radar even though he was playing for one of America’s most beloved teams. I guess first baseman Anthony Rizzo‘s problem was that his team, the Chicago Cubs endured a horrific season losing 101 games, their first triple digit losing season in 46 years. Also working against him was the fact he was not called up to Chicago until June 26th, by which time the other three guys mentioned had already entrenched themselves in the public consciousness. Well, it’s a new season and if you did not pay attention to Anthony Rizzo in 2012, now would be a good time to watch as I expect some big things from him in 2013.
At the age of 23, Rizzo has already been through so much in his young life both on and off the field. In April 2008, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma which was successfully treated with chemotherapy. At the time he was playing Single A ball for the Boston Red Sox organization having been a sixth round draft choice in 2007 by the team. In December 2010, he was traded by the Sox to the San Diego Padres in the deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. By January 2012, Rizzo was on the move again going from the Padres to the Cubs. He was highly regarded by each of his three organizations, all of them in love with his sweet lefty stroke. When the Pads promoted him to the Major Leagues in 2011, the San Diego Union Tribune called it the “most celebrated Padres call up since Roberto Alomar“. After a hot start, Rizzo struggled was demoted and then recalled in September finishing the season with a .141 batting average and 46 strikeouts in 198 at bats. After arriving in Chicago, he started the 2012 season at Triple A Iowa before his June promotion. He began his stint on the North Side on fire winning National League Rookie of the Month for July. He finished the year hitting .285 with 15 home runs and 48 RBI’s in 337 at bats. He along with shortstop Starlin Castro and starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija were the only reasons to watch the team in the second half.
2013 will be Anthony Rizzo’s first full Big League season. Although the Cubs will probably struggle again, Rizzo should assert himself as one of the club’s best players and with Castro form two building blocks for the future. Playing at Wrigley Field, it would not be a stretch to see him hit 30 homers, knock in around 110 runs and bat about .320. He is a cancer survivor who will not be fazed by such lofty expectations. For those of us in New York, we might see him around town in July as he should be selected to the first of many All-Star Games.
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