Rizzo with the Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs – No. 44
August 8, 1989 |
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
|June 9, 2011 for the San Diego Padres|
(through September 2, 2015)
|Runs batted in||294|
Career highlights and awards
Anthony Vincent Rizzo (born August 8, 1989) is an Italian-American professional baseball first baseman with the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). A top minor league prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, he was acquired by the San Diego Padres after the 2010 season along with three other prospects in exchange for All-Star player Adrian Gonzalez. He was traded to the Cubs in 2012.
Rizzo was a sixth round draft choice out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the Red Sox. He was heading for Florida Atlantic University before 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. Rizzo hit 12 home runs in 2009. In 2010, he hit a combined .260 with an on-base percentage (OBP) of .334 and a slugging percentage (SLG) of .480 along with 42 doubles, 25 home runs and 100 RBIs between stops at High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. He credited the easing of his swing and making better use of his legs for his power surge.
San Diego Padres
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 Adrian Gonzalez. Rizzo was considered the third best prospect (Kelly was #1) and the best power hitting prospect in the Red Sox organization. Kevin Boles, Rizzo's manager at Salem, also previously managed Gonzalez in the minors. Boles said, "Rizzo reminds me a lot of Adrian Gonzalez ... Rizzo is a bigger kid and has a little more power, Adrian is a little more of a contact hitter, but they had very similar styles of play ... We thought very highly of Anthony Rizzo. He's going to be a heck of a player.'" Padres General Manager Jed Hoyer expected either Rizzo or Kyle Blanks to eventually be the Padres major league starting first baseman.
The Padres invited Rizzo as a non-roster player to their major league camp for 2011 Spring Training. He started the 2011 season in Triple-A with the Tucson Padres. In his first 15 games, Rizzo hit .452 with six home runs and 24 RBIs. 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 above Double-A and his limited exposure to left-handed pitching as benefits of him continuing to play in Tucson.
He was called up to the majors after hitting .365 with an OPS of 1.159 along with 16 homers and 63 RBI in 200 at-bats over 52 games in Tucson. The San Diego Union-Tribune called Rizzo "the most celebrated Padres call-up" since Roberto Alomar debuted with the team in 1988. Rizzo's promotion was prompted by the Padres' inadequate offensive production and fielding play of veterans at first base. In his debut on June 9, 2011, against the Washington Nationals, Rizzo struck out in his first at bat, but then proceeded to hit a triple and score a run, helping the Padres to a 7–3 victory. He hit his first home run on June 11 against John Lannan. After three games he was 3-for-7 with a double, triple and a home run, while demonstrated patience in drawing four walks for a .667 on-base percentage (OBP). On July 22, 2011 Rizzo was demoted back to Triple-A, and Blanks was promoted. Rizzo had struggled with only a .143 batting average and 1 home run, striking out 36 times in 98 at-bats. Hoyer said Rizzo "worked hard, never made excuses, and endeared himself to his teammates" during his initial stint in the majors. Rizzo was recalled to the majors on September 4 after finishing the season at Tucson batting .331 with 26 homers and 101 RBI in 93 games. He finished his first season in San Diego hitting only .141 with 46 strikeouts in 128 at-bats. Hoyer believed Rizzo would be the starting first baseman for the Padres in 2012 with Jesus Guzman as the second option. However, Yonder Alonso moved ahead of Rizzo on the team's depth chart after he was acquired by the Padres in December 2011 in a trade for Mat Latos.
On January 6, 2012, the Padres traded Rizzo and right-handed starting pitcher Zach Cates to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-handed starting pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na. The deal was negotiated by Hoyer, the Cubs' general manager. Hoyer had also drafted Rizzo while working as an assistant general manager for the Red Sox, and later acquired Rizzo while he was the Padres' general manager. He blamed himself for calling up Rizzo to the majors too early in San Diego.
Rizzo started the 2012 season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. He again excelled in the minor leagues, batting .342 average with 23 home runs and 62 RBIs before being recalled by the Cubs on June 26. Similar to his call-up in San Diego, he was expected to help a struggling offense.
He became the first player in Cubs history to have three game-winning RBIs in his first five games with the team. He hit seven homers in July, the most by a Cubs rookie in a calendar month since Mel Hall hit nine in August 1983. He also led National League (NL) rookies that month in homers, hits (32), RBIs (17) and total bases (55). He ranked second among NL rookies in runs scored (14), and he was third with a .330 batting average, .375 on-base percentage and .567 slugging percentage. He was named the league's July Rookie of the Month.
On May 12, 2013, Rizzo agreed to a 7 year, $41 million deal. The deal includes two club options that could make the contract 9 years, $73 million. Despite having an off-year in 2013, Rizzo showed good power, belting 23 homers and 40 doubles in 606 at bats with a .233 batting average. 
Rizzo had his fifth multi-homer game on May 31, and his second career Walk-off home run on June 6. Rizzo was voted into the All-Star game via the final vote by fans along with White Sox pitcher Chris Sale. Rizzo joined teammate Starlin Castro in Minneapolis for the All-Star game. In late July, Rizzo won his first Player of the Week award. In mid-September Rizzo became the youngest player to receive the Branch Rickey Award as "a strong role model for young people".
Rizzo was elected on the player’s ballot for the 2015 All-Star Team. It made the second consecutive year he played in the game. He also competed in the 2015 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby for the first time in his career, but lost in the first round of the derby to Josh Donaldson. 
Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in May 2008 and was successfully treated with chemotherapy. He has an older brother, John, who was a lineman for the Florida Atlantic University football team.
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