Cubs fans: Curb your enthusiasm for Rizzo

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
5:45
PM ET
I'm worried for Anthony Rizzo: I fear that Cubs fans have built up their new first baseman as a savior in blue tights and red cape, the new Joey Votto or the next Mark Teixeira, a slugger supreme to build the next winning Cubs team around.

And maybe Rizzo will be that player. I certainly hope so. Not only does he have a great back story -- he missed most of 2008 while undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma -- but he has terrific minor league numbers (.342/.405/.696 with 23 home runs at Triple-A Iowa in 70- games) that foretells his potential to become a big-time hitter, and lord knows we need a few more big-time hitters right now. He doesn't turn 23 until August, so he's young enough to project a bright future as he settles in at Wrigley Field.

Still, I worry that the expectations are too high, that Cubs fans will be disappointed unless he does turn into an MVP candidate. Remember, he was terrible in a stint with the Padres last year, who were willing to trade him merely for hard-throwing reliever Andrew Cashner (yes, they plan to eventually convert him into a starter, but still).

There's also this scary list of Baseball America's top first-base prospects over the past five years, with the player's overall ranking among the top 100 prospects listed in parenthesis.

2012
Yonder Alonso (33)
Jonathan Singleton (34)
Anthony Rizzo (47)

2011
Eric Hosmer (8)
Brandon Belt (23)

2010
Justin Smoak (13)
Logan Morrison (20)
Brett Wallace (27)
Chris Carter (28)
Freddie Freeman (32)

2009
Lars Anderson (17)
Matt LaPorta (27)
Kyle Blanks (50)

2008
Chris Marrero (27)
Joey Votto (44)
Daric Barton (48)

As you can see, there must be some kind of curse on first-base prospects. Smoak? Wallace? LaPorta? Even Hosmer and Freeman are struggling this year compared to their outstanding rookie campaigns in 2011.

Anyway, of course just because these prospects haven't delivered doesn't mean Rizzo will. I don't believe any of them slugged .696 in Triple-A. It's merely a word of caution: Don't expect Votto. If it happens, enjoy the ride.

Rizzo is hitting third tonight as the Cubs host the Mets. Let's hope the kid gives Cubs fans something to cheer.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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