Alfonso Rivas Playing Like He Wants to Fill Anthony Rizzo-Sized Gap in Lineup
Walk. Walk. Walk. Double. Walk.
That performance at the plate on July 24 seemed to put Alfonso Rivas on the radar of Cubs social media perusers. Starved for some prospect content in the form of talent that is nearly ready for the big league call, fans have all of a sudden latched to Rivas, a contact-oriented left-handed bat who has put up a .265/.403/.434 slash line in Triple-A.
Rivas is only just now gaining notice from most Cubs fans, and for good reason. Acquired in return for Tony Kemp prior to the 2020 season, Rivas spent his first year as part of the organization putting in work in Southern California as the shutdown eliminated the minor league season.
“There was a chance that I was going to go to the alternate site during 2020 so I kind of stayed ready,” Rivas told Cubs Insider.
Working out every day and hitting at an open gym allowed Rivas to start his Cubs career all the way up the ladder in Triple-A in 2021. He’s facing experienced players, including several former big leaguers with significant time in the show, so a slow start wasn’t entirely unexpected. That started to turn around in a big way in late July and now it’s just a matter of letting his confidence grow.
“Seeing myself compete in the Triple-A level and being able to see some success was awesome for me because I’ve always wanted to prove myself that I can play at the highest level,” Rivas said.
Alfonso Rivas' grand slam on Saturday night is your @iaonecall Home Run Call from our series in Indianapolis! pic.twitter.com/5AZSednU8Q
— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) July 5, 2021
If he does eventually make it to Chicago, his 5-foot-11 and 190-ish pound frame will go against the stereotypical concept of big, burly first baseman. And while Rivas has shown some pop (see above), he doesn’t have the raw power you expect from a corner spot. What he does have is a great hit tool (8.2% swinging-strike rate), arguably the best eye in the system (15.1% walk rate), and impressive defense around the bag thanks to his athleticism.
He has the goods to be a starting-caliber player in the majors at first base, albeit in an unconventional way.
VERY smart baseball play by Alfonso Rivas! Giambrone able to make the tag on the runner and second and first for the double play! pic.twitter.com/WhtP5tDikM
— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) July 11, 2021
But if you (or Jed Hoyer) want to go a more traditional route, maybe Rivas ends up playing more outfield. Although his speed isn’t near enough for center, he has made five appearances in left this season and said he feels more than comfortable in the outfield.
“It is something I want to push myself on, having that versatility of being able to play outfield,” Rivas said. “I played outfield in college, all of high school, so it’s something that I can do. Playing left and right is definitely something I want to have in my game.”
With the trade of Anthony Rizzo, the team’s first baseman for the better part of a decade, there is a hole to fill. While the versatility of playing the outfield surely doesn’t hurt, I would imagine both Rivas and Cubs fans have their eyes on that Rizzo-sized gap in the lineup. Hey, he’s already got the right initials. That could cause plenty of pressure for a 24-year-old, but it doesn’t seem to affect him in one way or another.
“I’m not so much into prospect rankings,” Rivas told CI. “I don’t have Twitter myself, so I’m kind of out of that world which I feel like is where most of the conversations and all those topics are.”
Smart man. If he keeps putting up performances like those we’ve seen lately, he won’t ever need to worry about the social media cesspool.
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