So ... here we are again. Anthony Rizzo is humiliating the pitchers of the Pacific Coast League — or at least the right-handed pitchers — just as he did last season.
On Tuesday, Rizzo had his fourth multi-homer game of the young season, hitting a pair of bombs for the Iowa Cubs, driving in six runs. The 22-year-old prospect is now hitting .357/.413/.643. Rizzo leads the PCL in home runs and RBIs, he ranks third in total bases, and he's fifth in OPS.
But of course we've seen this show before. Rizzo hit .331/.404/.652 for Tucson last season with 26 homers and 101 RBIs in just 93 games. Yet when he arrived in the majors, he had no chance at all. Rizzo was badly over-matched, and thus delivered a miserable .141/.281/.242 line over 49 games, somehow striking out 46 times in only 128 at-bats. He had holes in his swing from which nothing could escape, not even light. He couldn't hit lefties or righties. Or ambidextrous pitchers, or underhand throwers, or people with webbed fingers. He was, in a word, bad.
So has anything changed?
Rizzo has reportedly made adjustments to his swing path in an effort to ... well, in an effort to not be so terrible against quality pitchers. Nonetheless, he continues to strike out rather often (26 Ks in 30 games), and left-handers still give him trouble (.257/.297/.429 vs. LHPs, 11 Ks in 35 AB). It would not be the worst idea for Rizzo to simply remain in Iowa, addressing weaknesses, refining his swing. There's absolutely no reason for him or anyone else to rush to join the 2012 Chicago Cubs.
Still, whenever Rizzo has a big day, the call-up conversation resumes. That's just the way of things. We'll almost certainly see Rizzo at some point this season; I've stashed him for later use in a pair of leagues. When he re-arrives, he'll be a lottery ticket in the power categories and a much needed addition to the 1B population in NL-only formats. Let's just hope he doesn't hit like a blindfolded Carlos Pena, as he did last season.
And I'll remind you that there's no reason to worry about Bryan LaHair's role when Rizzo joins the Cubs, because he can move to a corner outfield spot easily enough (and Alfonso Soriano can go wherever he likes, as long as he's not in the lineup. Seriously. Go away. Shoo). For additional LaHair discussion, with Batman-style sound effects, click here.