Rizzo’s Debut

Anthony Rizzo made his big-league debut Thursday night at Petco Park. The Padres beat Washington, 7-3, although this was a mere footnote to the “crowd” (if three is a crowd, then 16,464 qualifies), which cheered everything Rizzo did but which seemed uncertain how to occupy the spaces between his moments.

The public address announcer helped fuel what few flames existed in a mostly empty ballpark, calling attention to the fact that this was Rizzo’s debut and welcoming him to San Diego. Fans seemed hip to it. If he wasn’t the only reason they attended… well, who are we kidding?

There will be plenty of Rizzo coverage all over the Internet (try some video), so we’ll keep this short and sweet:

  • Rizzo struck out looking in his first at-bat against Livan Hernandez. I am told by those who watched on television that the pitch was inside. From our seats, Rizzo looked like an ant, so I can neither confirm nor deny.
  • He tripled to deep center to lead off the fifth inning. The ball was crushed and would have cleared the fence in Tucson with ease. It would have left most other big-league parks as well, but Rizzo doesn’t play half his games in most other big-league parks. He plays in a venue where only two men with at least 300 PA (Scott Hairston, Mike Cameron) own a career SLG higher than .450. This is Rizzo’s reality.
  • He walked against the lefty that was brought in to face him in the sixth and walked again in the seventh.
  • He looked comfortable at first base, which is the first time I’ve been able to say that about a Padres first baseman all year. At one point, while chasing a foul popup, he flipped over the retaining wall and into the stands, causing 16,464 people to gasp at once. Moments later, as Rizzo trotted back to his position, those gaps turned to cheers. As I say, we cheered everything he did… including not getting hurt.

Meanwhile, in the non-Rizzo portion of the game, Chase Headley homered to left-center, singled, and made a terrific diving stop of a ball hit to his left. The home run surprised me; I didn’t think it had distance but the ball kept carrying.

Brad Hawpe singled twice and walked in four trips to the plate. Hawpe, pushed to right field by Rizzo, played defense there about as well as had at first base. Did I mention the two singles and the walk?

Will Venable, recalled earlier in the day, robbed an incredulous Danny Espinosa of a homer in the eighth. It made up for Venable’s pinch-hit strikeout (yep, he chased a slider down and in) to end the seventh.

* * *

Not that anyone asked, but here are the top 10 career SLG at Petco Park (min 300 PA):

  1. Hairston, .492
  2. Cameron, .459
  3. Ramon Hernandez, .444
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, .442
  5. Mark Loretta, .441
  6. Nick Hundley, .441
  7. Phil Nevin, .438
  8. Ryan Klesko, .423
  9. Brian Giles, .398
  10. Kevin Kouzmanoff, .394

It’s good that Hundley is off the DL. He is one of the few current Padres who can hit the ball out of Petco Park.

Speaking of moves… Hundley is up, Blake Tekotte is back at Double-A San Antonio (happened a couple days ago). Rizzo, Venable, and Evan Scribner are up from Tucson; Aaron Cunningham was sent down to Triple-A, Eric “Tony Gwynn Jr. Without the OBP or Defense” Patterson was DFA’d, and Luke Gregerson was placed on the DL with an oblique strain.

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29 Responses »

  1. So if Rizzo plays really well this year, do the Padres give him a Longoria type deal and wrap him up for a few extra years right out of the box? As a 1B injury risk is lower for him probably than any other position for that type of deal (assuming he doesn’t keep trying to run into the seats on foul balls).

    I hate to say this, but if they can claw back to .500 before the all-star break they’re probably in this enough not to trade Bell. SF isn’t bad but they’re not great either, AZ is a mirage, COL is better than they’ve shown though, LA is going to crater this summer. Problem is can SD go 61-37 for the last 98 to get to 90 if that’s what it will take? SF is on that pace right now. That’s 620+ ball.

  2. I’m hoping that Rizzo’s .365/.444/.715 in Tucson will translate to .285/.360/.580 in SD. I have no mathematical basis for that, I’m just hoping he’s that good. He had a terrific swing on that triple.

  3. Moves not made yet … Darnell to AAA and Gyrko to AA … they gotta happen soon … maybe the org wants them to play in their All-Star games? One thing’s for sure, neither of them are learning anything at their current level …

  4. Here’s what KG @ BP says today …

    James Darnell, 3B, Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 3-for-4, 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB. 11-for-19 with 24 total bases in last five games; .376/.472/.678 on the season and needs to move up to Triple-A.

  5. And here’s yesterday’s comment about Gyorko …

    Jedd Gyorko, 3B, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 5-for-6, 2 2B, HR (13), 4 R, 4 RBI. Massive game as part of 24-run outburst on a windy day in Lancaster; .368/.430/.648 in 59 games.

  6. And for those that don’t follow the farm very closely, I will also point out that 2 of internation signings from several years ago are making significant progress … here’s KG @ BP on them … this from a couple of days ago …

    Jonathan Galvez, 2B, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 2-for-5, HR (6), 2 R, 5 RBI, K. Hitting .393 in June and .278/.357/.439 overall; Middle infielder with speed and power who seems to be flying under the radar.

    … and this from about a month ago …

    Luis Domoromo, OF, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne): 4-for-4, HR (1), R, RBI, CS. 19-year-old Venezuelan got seven-figure bonus for almost solely his bat and approach; .354/.450/.441 in 10 games since arroving from extended and just three strikeouts in 34 at-bats.

    … and he’s still hitting .300/.374/.425 after 120 ABs …


    There’s some serious talent and development down on the farm this season!

  7. good stuff LM. Maybe we’ll see Darnell in a Pads uniform sooner rather than later. They’re going to have a bunch of solid 3Bs

  8. which, I guess is better than having Vinny Castilla and Mark Bellhorn as your 3B options.

  9. Ted Leitner was brutal last night in hyping Rizzo. Absolutely insane! But it’s Ted Leitner so why be surprised? I swear he said, “He’s not going to be as good as Adrian Gonzalez with the bat. He’s not going to be as good as Adrian Gonzalez with the glove. But he has that level of talent.” WTF!!! He’s not going to be as good as Adrian Gonzalez, but he is?

  10. Geoff, where do you find you stats by ballplayer and park?

  11. @lynchmob – I like galvez a lot…. i understand that he is has defensive potential too, unlike rincon who is also mashing. Oramas has been pitching well at every level and don’t forget about Moreno in the DSL… he is off to a good start.

  12. Thoughts on Rizzo’s first start:

    He looked comfortable at the plate and in the field. As Black put it: “he looked like he belonged”.

    Just having Hundley and Rizzo in the lineup makes a huge difference. It means a lot less rob johnson and cantu. Can’t say it enough…. I can’t wait till Maybin and Hudson get back in the lineup.

  13. @ Pat Baseball-reference.com

  14. @Nick G.: Shave 100 points off that SLG and I’d still be happy.

    @LynchMob: Thanks for the farm updates. Darnell and Gyorko clearly don’t belong in their respective leagues. I expect one or both to be promoted soon after the mid-season leagues get underway in the next few weeks.

    @Pat: For this exercise, I used David Pinto’s Day by Day Database. I chose “Compare batters over a given time period” and started messing around with parameters. It’s a slick tool.

  15. @Quin: In answer to your question, no they can’t play .620 ball the rest of the way. Even if 87 wins takes the division, they have to win at a .592 clip. The best team in baseball currently has a .594 winning percentage.

  16. I agree Darnell and Gyorko are mashing with the bat, but the hot corner requires a glove too. Gyorko has less than 2 years as a pro, and has made 5 errors in 31 games in the field. He’s played 29 games as DH. Darnell’s weakness was fielding, and in 54 games he has 8 errors. No matter how well they’ve hit after two months (sample size!), they both need to take their glovework to a higher level to move up. Headley won’t price himself out of town for another year or two, so D&G have development time ahead of them.

  17. @Larry: Gyorko is a good defender. He is spending so much time at DH because of the Edinson Rincon Project. Move Darnell up and he can continue to refine his skills at Triple-A, allowing Gyorko to do the same at Double-A.

    As for sample size, I’m not concerned. Even beyond this season, both guys have solid offensive track records when healthy (which Darnell was not last year).

    I agree that D&G have development time ahead of them. I also believe that both would benefit from continuing said development in environments that present more of a challenge to them.

  18. Darnell was healthy for August last year … and he mashed at AA … so that’s consistent with what you have said, GY, that “both guys have solid offensive track records when healthy” … so, imo, Darnell technically has 3 months of mashing at AA :-)

    PF … thanks for mentioning Rincon … he’s been noticed by KG @ BP also! Check out his slash stats … .350/.388/.519 in 237 ABs at Lake Elsinore!


    … also like Oramas, but haven’t been privy to much Moreno buzz … yet!

    Pat – I’ve been able to listen to the Padres this season on the internet (via cbssportsline.com) … and it has reminded me how much I dislike Leitner … he’s just not good … how did he become an icon??? For me, the best was when Jerry was in his prime with Dave Campbell by his side … Soup really was amongst the best on the air, imo!

  19. While we’re talking about great years by the system’s third basemen, let’s not overlook what Headley is doing in the majors: .274/.376/.385, good for a 125 wRC+ (or 121 OPS+ if you prefer numbers that slightly underweight OBP).

    Exciting debut by Rizzo. Livan Hernandez is a funny guy to get your first taste of major league pitching against. He probably has worse raw stuff than most guys in AAA.

  20. Also, Brad Hawpe did look terrible last night defensively, which pretty much matches the scouting reports and defensive statistics for him. So it was weird to have Venable come into the game defensively for Ludwick instead of Hawpe.

  21. Thanks Steve C; I know how to get it for individual hitters there, but it seemed like Geoff had done his search for multiple batters.

    Thanks Geoff, I’ll check that out! And, ya, no way is Rizzo going to slug 580 playing in Petco, but 480 would be great!

    LM, I’m sorry you’ve been listening to Leitner!!! ;-) I’ve never considered him an icon. I guess if you stay on the air long enough though, you develop a following, but icon is probably overstating it. Agreed, Coleman and Campbell were great!

  22. The reason they aren’t moving either of Darnell or Gyorko up is because they are more challenge right now were they are at. Why bring Darnell to AAA when the pitching at AA is so much better. Plus, Tucson is an extrem hitters ballpark while San Antonio is more of a pitchers ballpark. So by leaving Darnell in AA he is probably getting more of a challenge. And Gyorko has no shot at making the big leagues this season so might as well let him play one full season with the same team…

    Also, with the uncertainty of our OF prospects and with Chase Headley already at 3rd in San Diego, I would love to see Darnell taking some fly balls in RF every once in a while. Headley might not be a stud with the bat. But he is a plus-plus defender with super OBP skills. Plus he can steal 12-15 bases a season, which most 3rd baseman can’t do. I think it would be an easier adjustment for Darnell than it was for Headley. That way, by next summer, we could have Rizzo, Blanks, Darnell, Headley, Maybin, & Hundley all in the line-up together…

  23. I noticed during the pregame telecast that the bushes flanking the batter’s eye now have a black covering in front of them. How new is that? Can it be that the bushes didn’t provide enough contrast for batters? Can we blame April on ‘em?

  24. Very funny comment about Rizzo in this article posted on Yahoo today …


    Anthony Rizzo(notes), fresh off the farm, was one of the San Diego stars in Thursday’s victory. He went 1-for-2 with a triple, run, and two walks; if he can do that for another week or two, there will be a statue of Rizzo constructed before the All-Star break. The Padres batted him seventh in his debut but that’s not going to stick very long. This is a moribund offense and Rizzo looks ready to produce right out of the box.

    … so, any of you seeing any pedestals going up next to Tony out there? :-)

  25. Spangenberg is signed!


    Eugene’s season starts next Friday … bet he’ll be in the lineup!

  26. Darnell @ #9 on this week’s PHS :-)


    With Rincon getting in the team photo … and Matt Antonelli being the blast from the past!

  27. Seriously, I don’t get Bud Black. Yesterday’s lineup brought 7 runs and 10 hits, so let’s change it and bench the guy who went 2-4 with a homerun, and then take the guy who’s 4-9 w/ 2 HRs and a double vs Marquis and make sure he doesn’t start.

    Has anyone ever seen him give reasons for his crazy or is it just a power trip of he’ll do what he wants, when he wants to no matter how much it doesn’t help the team.

  28. Ben, have you given Moorad your resume? Cuz I would totally hire you to replace Black!!!!

  29. So far, Rizzo has better plate discipline than any current Padre. I have not seen a Padre with his plate discipline since TG Sr. Rizzo just doesn’t swing outside the zone. He is very aggressive in the zone. This is a welcome approach as too many current Padres swing at everything out of the zone and take called strikes in the zone. The only hole I have seen so far in Rizzo’s offense has been his bat speed. He is only 21, so plenty of time to work on techniques to shorten that swing for his aggressive approach to balls in the zone.