Top prospect, Anthony Rizzo, made his long awaited debut in a Cubs uniform on Tuesday night and did not disappoint, delivering the game winning RBI.
Despite how awful the Cubs have played this season, it was hard not to be excited for the series with the Mets for the simple fact that it meant the start of the Rizzo era. I was excited that the debut fell on my day to recap. Before the game, I was on with Marty Tirrell on ESPN Radio in Des Moines and we talked about the team and particularly what to expect from Rizzo. My biggest fear, which I relayed to Marty, is that he’ll come up and not make the impact he’s expected to make, prompting boos and jeers from Cubs fans. I would hope that I’m wrong, but just seems to be the norm with Cub fans. Thankfully, last night, he got off to a good start.
The most frequent things we heard about Rizzo’s development since the start of the season was 1) how Jed Hoyer felt he rushed him to the Majors last year, and 2) how they made some small tweaks with his approach at the plate that have allowed him to be more successful. Usually you hear the second excuse a lot when a player is struggling and has been working in the cage with the hitting coach trying to figure out the issues. Most of the time, I feel like it’s more a mental issue and the team simply tells us they found a few mechanical things they tweaked. With Rizzo, you can actually see the change. Below is a video of his stance before the changes this year, and then a second video since the changes have been made. Pay the most attention to how much lower in the hitting stance his hands are.
You can definitely see a difference in the hand placement. The stance reminds me a lot of the way Eric Davis used to hit. I don’t see how it would help, but then again I also could never figure out how Craig Counsel had the crazy stance he had either. It’s all about what’s working for you from a physical and mental standpoint.
Rizzo’s night featured a single that very easily could have gone as an error in the first inning, and a double that should have been scored a single and advancement on the throw. Apparently even the official scorekeeper was caught up in Rizzomania. At one point, I laughed out loud at a tweet that poked fun at the absurdity of the situation. In the the end, a 2-f0r-4 night is about as good of a debut that the brain trust probably could have hoped for to ease the kid’s transition into the lineup.
Though it wasn’t his Major League Debut, his start last night got me thinking about what the debut’s have looked like for other Cubs top prospects. Seeing as we haven’t had many legit bigtime prospects, it wasn’t hard to compile the list.
On the less positive side, Randy Wells left before recording an out in the 4th inning due to ineffectiveness and I am beginning to wonder what his future is with this team. Dale Svuem doesn’t appear to care for him all that much and he just hasn’t been the same pitcher as he was the first year he was up. At that point, the future looked very bright for him to slot in the rotation in the back end and give that spot stability. I’m not sure what’s happened at this point, but it’s getting harder and harder to find a spot on this roster for him. That said, props go out to the bullpen for six shutout innings of relief to preserve a win.
- After tonight, Darwin Barney is now riding a 61 game errorless streak at second base.
- Why don’t more TV broadcasts show the total pitches for the pitcher on the screen? ESPN does it, and the Met’s broadcast does it as well. It just helps give context to how a pitcher is doing when you can see pitch count vs. inning of the game and it’s so easy to find a spot for on the graphic overlay.
- Luis Valbuena, while he looked OK at the plate, did not look good on the bases or in the field.