The Cubs are headed to the Postseason for the second consecutive year, after winning the National League Central. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo.Anthony
The Cubs are headed to the Postseason for the second consecutive year, after winning the National League Central. As this will be the first time that many fans across the Majors will be focusing on their roster, here's our attempt to learn the origins of slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Born: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
HS: Stoneman-Douglas (Fla.) HS
Minors: GCL Red Sox (R), Greenville (A-), Salem (A+), Portland (AA), Tucson (AAA), Iowa (AAA)
:: Before they were postseason-bound: Select a player ::
Path to Chicago: Was drafted by the Red Sox in the sixth round in 2007, traded to the Padres in 2010 as part of a package for Adrián González, then traded again to the Cubs on Jan. 6, 2012, in a deal for Andrew Cashner.
Trophy case: Three-time All-Star with the Cubs (2014-16), National League Player of the Week for week of July 20, 2014, NL Rookie of the Month for July 2012.
Famous feat(s): Rizzo has notched three straight 30-homer seasons since 2014, and has consecutive 100-RBI seasons in 2015 and '16. When Rizzo debuted for the Cubs in 2012, he became the first player in club history with three game-winning RBIs in his first five games.
You might not know: Rizzo, whose family is from Sicily, played first base for Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He hit a go-ahead two-run double off Sergio Romo in the ninth inning of Italy's 6-5 win over Mexico.
Six degrees of Willie Aikens: Also on the Italian national team for the 2013 WBC were Major Leaguers like Nick Punto, Jason Grilli, Chris Colabello, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and Rizzo's future Cubs teammate Chris Denorfia. The team was coached by Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.
"Obviously, I'd love to play for [the U.S. team]," Rizzo said at the time, "but they have all the 'mon-stars' on there. Italy is a great opportunity. I come from a strong Italian background. It's a pretty cool experience."
Fighting together: Rizzo was a Red Sox Minor Leaguer in 2008 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, and he met then-Boston pitcher Jon Lester, who overcame anaplastic large cell lymphoma in '06. Now, Rizzo and Lester are teammates on the Cubs, and both are active with their foundations (Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation and Lester's NVRQT), which support kids and families in their battle against pediatric cancer. Rizzo hosts a walk-a-thon and a "Cook Off for Cancer" in Chicago in which celebrity chefs offer their take on ballpark food.
"It was a team thing [dealing with cancer]," Rizzo said. "That's why I say, 'We went through it, we beat it.' I say, 'We're in the big leagues,' not me. It's the whole supporting team that helped me get to where I am now."
Call them Bryzzo: Cubs fans have coined the nickname "Bryzzo" for Rizzo and his buddy/fellow Cubs superstar Kris Bryant. Sadly, when Bryant proposed to his fiancee during the offseason, Rizzo tweeted, "It's a night of crying and pouring my feelings into ice cream now that Bryzzo is over."
On the other hand, with both players having tremendous seasons this year, Chicago manager Joe Maddon offered a novel suggestion for who should be named the National League's Most Valuable Player. "They share one name," Maddon said. "Bryzzo. Maybe Bryzzo can be named MVP. Who knows?"
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @_dadler.