PCL notes: Rizzo right at home in Iowa

Cubs top prospect hopes stay in Triple-A doesn't last too long

By Chris Jackson / Special to MLB.com | April 23, 2012 6:00 AM ET

Anthony Rizzo is getting used to moving from one organization to another.

That does not mean he actually likes being traded, however.

"Nothing comes as a surprise anymore in this game," Rizzo said before the Iowa Cubs played in Albuquerque last week. "Theo (Epstein) and the (Cubs) believe in me. I have the utmost respect for everyone in our front office, all of the coaching staffs, from the big-league staff to the lower levels. Everyone knows what they're doing."

Rizzo was a top prospect in the Red Sox system when Epstein was the general manager in Boston. He was considered the centerpiece of the trade that brought All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

Rizzo dominated at Triple-A Tucson last season, batting .331 with 26 home runs and 101 RBIs in 93 games, but his big league numbers in San Diego (.141, 46 strikeouts in 128 at-bats) failed to measure up. After the Padres traded right-hander Mat Latos to the Reds for a package of prospects that included first baseman Yonder Alonso, they turned around and dealt Rizzo and pitcher Zach Cates to Chicago, where Epstein had taken over as team president during the offseason.

"We had a pretty good relationship," Rizzo said. "He helped me out a lot. I know him pretty well."

Knowing and trusting Epstein made the transition to his third organization in three seasons a lot more comfortable for Rizzo.

"It's a lot easier this time around, just knowing what to expect," he said. "The guys here are good; I've played against a few of them. I'm becoming friends with them. It's been good so far."

Rizzo has been good so far for Iowa, batting .369 (24-for-65) with seven homers and 19 RBIs. MLB.com's No. 33 prospect has picked up right where he left off against Pacific Coast League pitching.

"He's got a good swing, he works hard, he goes about his work habits real good," Iowa manager Dave Bialas said. "He's got a lot of talent. He can hit for power, hit for average."

Rizzo said he has taken lessons learned from his time in San Diego and applied them this season, shortening up his swing and trying to be more selective at the plate.

"It's the same game, I was just trying too hard," he explained. "I just wasn't fortunate when I was up there. I was missing fastballs right down the middle. I was missing everything right down the middle. I learned a lot from it. Hopefully, it'll pay off."

While Rizzo is looking good in the PCL again, it's not a league he wants to play in for much longer.

"I never, ever want to get comfortable in the PCL," he said. "The travel is the worst. There are nice hotels, nice fields, but there's no getting comfortable in this league."

In brief

The Butler did it: Round Rock outfielder Joey Butler extended his hitting streak to 12 games Saturday with a fifth-inning double in an 8-5 loss to New Orleans. While Butler has hit .304 (14-for-46) during the streak, tied for the second longest in the PCL this season, he has only four RBIs all year, with three of them coming on two homers.

Defensive adjustment: Jordan Pacheco started the season 2-for-10 with a triple for the Rockies, splitting time at third base, before his shaky defense earned him a trip back to Colorado Springs. So far, so good for Pacheco, who's committed just one error in six games with the Sky Sox. He's also batting .478 (11-for-23) with a homer and two RBIs.

Bear market: The Fresno Grizzlies continued the best start in franchise history with a 12-0 drubbing of host Tacoma on Saturday. Fresno (13-4) has won all four of the series it has played. Veteran outfielder Justin Christian (.453, two homers, 11 RBIs) has led the offense, while the trio of Eric Hacker, Travis Blackley and Andrew Kown has combined to go 7-0 with a 1.60 ERA.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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