Time for our fourth Future Friar installment as we try to introduce you to some of the players you are likely to see at PETCO Park in the future. Today we visit someone you are probably fairly familiar with already. He made his debut this year and is likely to return before the season is over. He figures to be a large part of the Major League team going forward. Meet…Anthony Rizzo.
Anthony Rizzo, 22, was born on August 8, 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He played his high school ball at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, hitting .468 his senior season. That performance resulted in his selection in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft by the Red Sox.
In the Sox minor league system, Rizzo hit .284 (307-for-1080) with 85 doubles, 38 home runs, 180 RBI and 170 runs scored in 282 games over four seasons before being acquired by the Padres as part of the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.
While posting solid numbers on his journey through the minors, Rizzo faced his largest challenge off the field. At the age of 18, while playing with the Red Sox Single-A Greenville affiliate, he was diagnosed with limited stage classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To combat the disease, Rizzo underwent six months of chemotherapy treatments after which doctors informed him that the cancer was in remission. When he returned to the field, he picked up right where he left off, terrorizing minor league pitching. He played two more seasons in the Sox system before joining the Padres last offseason.
After a solid performance at Big League camp for the Friars, Rizzo was sent to Triple-A Tucson to begin the 2011 campaign. It was here that his numbers really took off. Over the first couple months of the season, Rizzo hit .365 with a .444 OBP and .715 SLG (1.159 OPS), earning a promotion to the Padres. He made his Major League debut on June 9, collecting a triple for his first Big League hit.
The trip to the Majors served as a reality check for Rizzo, as his numbers came back down to earth. He was optioned back to Triple-A on July 21, his offensive attack picking right back up. Upon his return to Tucson, he hit safely in nine of his first 12 games, going 18-for-48 (.375) with seven doubles, six home runs and 22 RBI.
“Rizz has had an MVP-type season at Tucson, hitting for both average and power along with excellent run production,” says Padres Vice President of Player Development Randy Smith. “He has continued to improve as the season has progressed from a defensive and offensive standpoint. All in all a tremendous season from a guy who just turned 22 in August.”
In 80 total games at Triple-A this year, Rizzo has hit .345 (105-for-304) with 31 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 95 RBI, 56 runs scored, a .422 OBP and .681 SLG. In addition to his hot bat, the 6-3, 220 pound first baseman has committed just 11 errors in 689 chances at first base, posting a .984 fielding percentage.
Here’s a great fan video of Rizzo’s first hit from the Padres June 9 win over the Nationals. Skip ahead to 1:30 for the good stuff.
Reliever Josh Spence made his Major League debut last night, working a perfect ninth in the Padres 11-2 win over the Braves. The outing made Spence the seventh player to make his Big League debut with the Friars this season, joining Cedric Hunter, Blake Tekotte, Logan Forsythe, Anthony Rizzo, Anthony Bass and Evan Scribner.
Here is video of Spence striking out Jason Heyward, his first Major League batter faced: http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16252123
Tonight the Padres take on the Braves in the second of a three-game series. The game marks the eighth of nine tilts between the two clubs this season, with the Padres holding a 4-3 edge so far. A win tonight would clinch the season series against Atlanta for the first time since going 5-1 in 2005.
Dustin Moseley takes the hill tonight, looking for his third win of the season. Over his last five starts, he has gone 1-0 with a 2.37 ERA (8 ER/30.1 IP). Moseley will be facing the Braves for the second time this season.
The Padres continue the Interleague slate with a three-game set in Boston that begins today. The series marks the return of Jed Hoyer to Boston along with Anthony Rizzo’s first appearance against the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft. In addition, Adrian Gonzalez will face the Friars for the first time since moving to the American League following the 2010 season. Here are the projected pitching matchups for the series:
LHP Andrew Miller vs. LHP Wade LeBlanc
RHP Josh Beckett vs. RHP Mat Latos
RHP John Lackey vs. LHP Clayton Richard
With tonight’s game, the Pads are looking to snap a five-game losing streak and grab their first Interleague win of the season. Despite the struggles in the win column, the Padres bats have been showing some life on this trip. Chase Headley (.480, 12-for-25), Chris Denorfia (.320, 8-for-25) and Jason Bartlett (.292, 7-for-22) have all been swinging a solid bat and will look to continue that trend as they take on the Red Sox.
Anthony Rizzo greeted the San Diego media at PETCO Park, took the field with the team and got a little advice from veteran second baseman Orlando Hudson:
The Padres made a bunch of roster moves today, including adding Anthony Rizzo to the lineup and recalling outfielder Will Venable. Here is tonight’s lineup, with Rizzo slated to make his Major League debut:
For more on Rizzo, check out this piece by MLB.com’s Corey Brock.