Jackson and Rizzo could be reality soon

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
4:24
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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Dale Sveum, Anthony RizzoAP Photo/Morry GashManager Dale Sveum and the Cubs have big expectations for first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44).
MESA, Ariz. -- If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan you already have a good sense of fantasy baseball, North Side style. With that in mind, fast forward to July 1. Imagine a lineup that has shortstop Starlin Castro batting second, outfielder Brett Jackson third and first baseman Anthony Rizzo fourth.

That sounds pretty good, and it could become a reality if Jackson and Rizzo take care of business at Triple-A Iowa this spring.

"I envision the group of us playing together in the major leagues and having success," Jackson said. "I really look forward to playing with a lot of the guys I have come up with in the minors."

Jackson has five-tool talent, and Rizzo could be the next great young slugger in the National League.

"What I can control is my work ethic and how I go about my business every day," Rizzo said. "What I can’t control is when they decide to promote me to the major leagues."


The 22-year-old Rizzo, who hit 26 home runs at Triple-A Tucson in the San Diego Padres system last season, feels good about his future.

"I look at myself as a star in the future but that can only happen if you work hard and put yourself in a position to do well," said Rizzo, who was acquired in a trade with San Diego for pitcher Andrew Cashner.

Jackson, 23, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2009, is just as confident of his skill set.

"I visualize great things for myself," said Jackson, who batted .297 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 48 games with Triple-A Iowa last season. "I think it’s a powerful tool for an athlete to envision yourself doing great things as long as you put the work in."

With Jackson and Rizzo almost ready to join Castro, the future may no longer have to be a fantasy for Cubs fans. Also keep an eye on Junior Lake, who may be a budding star at third base in the next couple of seasons.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 30
RBIA. Rizzo 71
RA. Rizzo 81
OPSA. Rizzo .889
WJ. Arrieta 8
ERAT. Wood 4.81
SOJ. Arrieta 139