Thursday brings some positive news out of San Diego, along with some less positive news. We'll begin with the less positive news, so that we can end up with a sweet finish.
Firstly, the Padres have optioned top prospect Anthony Rizzo back to triple-A Tucson. The 21-year-old first baseman pushed his way to the majors by batting .365 with Tucson earlier this season with a 1.159 OPS. But where it looked like he was ready to succeed at the highest level, he instead ran into considerable difficulty. Rizzo had a strong first series, homering in his third game, but overall, after 117 trips to the plate, he owns a .143 average and a .547 OPS, with 36 strikeouts. He's still one of the better hitting prospects in the league and he's a huge part of the Padres' future, but for now, it's been determined that he has some more work to do.
Secondly, and more awesomely, replacing Rizzo will be the absolutely enormous Kyle Blanks. The last time we saw Blanks, he was struggling in the majors, and he had his 2010 season cut short by Tommy John surgery. But he's come back healthy in 2011, and over more than 350 plate appearances in the minors, he's posted a .961 OPS with 15 home runs. Blanks appears to have his swing and his strength back to where they were, and the 24-year-old will now get another chance to prove himself. He had a strong debut season with the Padres in 2009, and could well be a cog in the middle of their future lineup.
It's too bad that Rizzo has met the fate he's met, but he'll be back, and in the meantime, Blanks is both popular and talented, so Padres fans will welcome him back with open arms.