Like the guy blocking his path to the major leagues, Anthony Rizzo had a hot start to the season, and on Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs named the young first baseman their minor league player of the month for April.
The Cubs' top hitting prospect, Rizzo, 22, batted .384 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 22 games with Triple-A Iowa in April. He also posted a .430 on-base percentage and a .663 slugging percentage, good for a 1.093 OPS.
Rizzo ranks among the Pacific Coast League leaders in home runs (first with seven), RBIs (tied for first with 24), total bases (third with 58) and batting average (fifth at .374).
The Cubs, who acquired Rizzo from the San Diego Padres for pitcher Andrew Cashner in the offseason, have repeatedly said they will not rush Rizzo to the major leagues. Bryan LaHair is making that plan a little easier after posting a big April himself, batting .390 with five home runs and 14 RBIs.
Iowa's Frank Batista was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the month. Batista, 23, combined to toss 9 2/3 scoreless innings in eight relief appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa in April. He limited opponents to a .176 batting average, striking out 11 and walking two. Batista began the season with Tennessee, his first-ever stop above Single-A, and recorded five saves in six scoreless outings) to earn the promotion to Iowa.