Now that our long national nightmare is over and Anthony Rizzo is making his Cubs debut Tuesday night at Wrigley Field the pressure is on for him to live up to the lofty expectations.
Burdened with the task of saving the Cubs and rising from the basement of the National League is no small feat for the 22- year old first baseman. Having raked in the minor leagues to the tune of a .343 average with 23 homeruns in 70 games, many Cubs fans are expecting the second coming of Albert Pujols.
Thus is the life of a prospect in the Cubs organization.
An organization that has failed to produce a successful Major League hitter since Mark Grace came to the show 25 years ago.
Throw in a litany of failed first round draft picks such as Louis Montanez, Ryan Harvey, Ben Christensen, Brooke Kieschnick, Earl Cunningham, and Derrick May, and you see how Cubs fans have seen their share of flops, busts, and disappointments before.
I have been preaching patience when it comes to Rizzo, and there is a contingent of the fan base that realizes he needed more seasoning with the Iowa Cubs based on his failures when called up with the San Diego last year. He hit .141 with the Padres last season with a single homerun.
With the Cubs in year one of a massive rebuilding mode it didn’t make sense to rush Rizzo and risk the potential long-term damage an early promotion can do to a player’s confidence, (Corey Patterson). A revamped hitting approach for Rizzo, one where he lowered the starting point for his hands, and led scouts to believe a more polished and refined Rizzo will not experience the same struggles he had as a Padre.
Fans of the Cubs will be happy if Rizzo shows continued development and provides a spark to a club that has been struggling to find many bright spots in a season that sees the club languishing in the cellar of the National League Central with a record of 25-48, the worst in the Major Leagues.
The Cubs career for Rizzo begins with a start at first base against the Mets as Cubs cross their fingers and hold their collective breath hoping to witness a new face of the franchise, and not the next in the long chapter of unrealized potential among former Cubs prospects.
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