Peace Out, Rizzomania

Union Trib – For the second time in 13 months, Jed Hoyer has negotiated a trade for first base prospect Anthony Rizzo.

The Padres on Friday traded Rizzo and minor league pitching prospect Zach Cates to their former general manager’s new team, the Chicago Cubs, in exchange for right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner and 20-year-old South Korean center fielder Kyung-Min Na.

Rizzo, 22, was one of four players acquired from the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 6, 2010, for All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

A left-handed power-hitter, Rizzo was quickly identified by then-Padres GM Hoyer as the “Padres’ first baseman of the future” and was regarded as the top prospect in the Padres system going into the 2011 season.

Rizzo immediately turned heads with Triple-A Tucson and hit .331 with 26 homers and 101 RBI in 93 games in the Pacific Coast League.

But the left-handed hitter, who was first promoted to the major leagues on June 9, batted .141 with one homer and nine RBI in 49 games with the Padres. He had 46 strikeouts in 128 at-bats while struggling with a long swing. Rizzo also drew 21 walks.

Despite his slow start in the major leagues, Rizzo was still ranked among the Padres’ top three prospects.

But his future at first base became cloudy recent when the Padres acquired left-handed hitting first baseman Yonder Alonso from Cincinnati on Dec. 17 as part of the four-player package for right-handed starter Mat Latos.

New Padres GM Josh Byrnes said at that time that Alonso would be moving ahead of Rizzo in the Padres depth chart at first base.

The Padres, who had been talking to teams about Rizzo even before acquiring Alonso, heard from several teams regarding Rizzo after acquiring Alonso. The two teams showing the most interest in Rizzo were the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cubs, who are now served by Hoyer as GM.

Cashner, 25, is a 6-foot-6, 200-pound power pitcher who was the 19th overall player selected in the 2008 draft. The Cubs drafted Cashner out of TCU.

Named the Cubs’ No. 5 starter at the end of last spring, Cashner missed most of the 2011 season after suffering a shoulder injury in his first start. He returned later in the season and had a 1.69 ERA in seven games, including the one start.

Cashner spent the most of the 2010 season in the Cubs bullpen, going 2-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 53 games.

Na, who turned 20 three weeks ago, moved from Rookie ball to Double-AA last season with the Cubs and hit a combined .268 with a .358 on-base percentage. He had no homers and 33 RBI and stole 20 bases in 30 attempts.

A left-handed hitter, Na is 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds.

The right-handed Cates was the Padres’ third-round pick in the 2010 draft. He was 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 25 starts for low Single-A Fort Wayne last season.

Literally think that Jed Hoyer is doing a one of those Dr. Evil-esque laughs right now. Totally feel like he just hoodwinked Josh Byrnes. I really hope I’m wrong. Just stings a bit that the primary piece in the Adrian Gonzalez trade is now on the Cubs…in return for a couple dudes I’ve never heard of. Here’s to hoping Casey Kelly is the next Sandy Koufax.

-bp

[original image via Tenth & Island]

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