In Preparation for Rizzo’s First At-Bat at Fenway
It has been an awfully long time since my last post. The greatest evidence for that is my last post was about first (and unfortunately, only) visit to Extended Spring Training, and now both short-season Single-A and the Gulf Coast League are under way. The Gulf Coast League is conveniently located (relatively speaking), so I fully intend on taking some trips up there to do some very amateur scouting and to hopefully get some interviews with some of the Red Sox’ 2011 draft picks.
The 2011 draft picks that are currently on the GCL roster include 18th round pick Andrew Jones (RHP), 49th round pick Jadd Schmeltzer (RHP), 28th round pick Brenden Shepard, 39th round pick Corey Vogt (RHP), 35th round pick Carlos Coste (C), 33rd round pick David Chester (1B), and 45th round pick Matt Gedman (2B).
Excited as I am about the start of short-season baseball, that’s not the real reason I wrote my first post in nearly two months. I have been excited about this Padres vs Red Sox series ever since the Adrian Gonzalez trade. In the back of my mind, I knew that it was wishful thinking to have either Casey Kelly or Anthony Rizzo on the roster, but the latter exceeded my already lofty expectations. I had a feeling Rizzo would be successful in Triple-A, but I thought it would be at least a year before he made his major-league debut. With Triple-A Tuscon, he batted .365 with an OBP of .444, and slugged .715. His numbers made it nearly impossible for the Padres to keep him stockpiled in Triple-A, and they certainly warranted a call-up. Rizzo was quick to impress, hitting a triple in his second major league at-bat, and a home run in his second major league game, but has since struggled, batting only .148.
However, Rizzo is a guy that you simply cannot count out. He has exuded resiliency both on and off the field throughout his minor-league career, but the latter is the most inspiring. As an 18 year old, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during his first full professional season. Fortunately, it was discovered at an early and treatable stage, and he has since made a full recovery.
The 2007 draftees is probably the first draft class that I have followed closely since their beginnings. I met Anthony and his mom, Lori, before a minor league spring training game in 2010. He was nothing but kind to me when I was up in Portland last summer, and was even kind enough to sit down and do an interview with me, which you can read here.
I’m sure that many of you who are kind enough to stop by and read this are followers of prospects, so I’m sure that you would agree that there is nothing better than seeing a prospect’s potential materialize. I have been looking forward to Rizzo’s first at-bat at Fenway for a while now, and now the time has finally come. The only variable that I did not anticipate is that he is on the opposing team.
Rizzo was one of the decisive chips in the trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, and rightfully so. Rizzo has a lot of talent, and I have no doubt that he will make an impact at the major-league level. He could easily be the type of player that teams trade their top three prospects for, and he has the potential to make Padres fans say, “Adrian who?” (although that’s nearly impossible for any baseball fan to say the way he has been swinging the bat this season).
Even though Rizzo is no longer with the Red Sox organization, I still root for him like he is, and the same thing goes for any prospect that came up through the Red Sox system. I couldn’t help but smile when Justin Masterson shut the Red Sox out 1-0 last year. And tonight–or at some point this series–I can’t help but hope that Rizzo will tattoo a baseball over the monster.