The Anthony Rizzo era is set to begin Thursday against the Nationals, as the Padres will officially promote the 21-year-old first baseman to their major league roster. Originally projected to be a September call up at the earliest, Rizzo and his production at Triple-A Tuscon forced Jed Hoyer and Padres’ management to pull the early trigger.
Rizzo was hitting .365 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI’s in 200 at-bats this season. He also had a .444 on-base percentage and a .715 slugging percentage.
Rumors of the promotion spread like wildfire late Monday and only continued to spread once Rizzo flew to San Diego Wednesday morning to have his sore thumb and bone bruise in his left hand examined.
After the hand checked out fine, the Padres decided he might as well extend his stay.
“We wanted him to get some seasoning,” Hoyer told to MLB.com. “This is, frankly, an earlier schedule than we had imagined. We felt this guy would be a September call up. He really forced us and pushed the clock."
After realizing they couldn’t keep their biggest phenom farmhand in decades in the minors this season, they targeted the June 17-19 Interleague play trip to Minnesota for Rizzo’s debut. The move would have allowed Brad Hawpe to DH and ease back into the outfield and then play Rizzo at first.
Seven and a half games back in a winnable National League West and with any chance to climb back into contention—time is of the essence.
There is an obvious need for Rizzo’s bat in the lineup.
The Padres have scored the fewest runs in baseball and compiled the lowest slugging and on-base percentages.
Rizzo to the rescue? Not so fast.
“I don’t think he’s the savior of the team,” Hoyer told MLB.com. “I like the fact that there’s buzz about him coming up. I hope it’s the first of many times that we have a good young player who does well in the minor leagues and people are excited to see.”