Intriguing prospect Rivas gets late-season chance with Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Alfonso Rivas didn’t believe the news at first.
The first baseman was back in his hotel room, following Friday night’s game with Triple-A Iowa, when manager Marty Pevey called him around 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
“He's like, ‘All right, well, come to the field,” Rivas recalled Pevey saying. “’You need to pack all your stuff because you're going to the big leagues.’
“I was like ‘He’s joking.’ It was a very surreal moment and now I’m here. Very blessed, really.”
The Cubs called up Rivas Saturday after placing infielder David Bote on the 10-day injured list. He’s the latest player to get a big-league opportunity with the Cubs in the aftermath of their trade deadline selloff.
Rivas may not have believed the news, but he might have as much reason to believe it as anybody the Cubs have called up. He’s only 24, has the type of hitting profile the Cubs want more of, and has performed well since joining the organization.
The Cubs acquired Rivas, a fourth-round pick in 2018, from Oakland in January 2020 for Tony Kemp. In 58 games with Iowa this season, he’s posted a solid .284/.405/.411 slash line.
In addition to first base, he has outfield experience in the minors, college and high school.
He’s a contact-oriented hitter who only struck out about 20 percent of the time this season, hitting four home runs.
“It's in my game, being a hitter first rather than just start launching balls,” Rivas said. “That’s something I take pride in and really focus on every pitch, strike zone discipline and all that stuff.”
But Rivas had to wait a year to show the organization that skillset. He was with the Cubs in 2020 spring training, and then the sport shut down due to COVID-19.
“It was a very weird year, going to spring training with a new club, meeting new faces and then getting shut down right away,” he said. “It did suck, but that was time that I got to spend with my family, my close ones.”
Rivas was able to make the most of playing in the instructional league last fall and carried it over into a strong 2021 season with Iowa.
It’s earned him an early look with the Cubs, in some ways similar to the opportunities Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and other have received this season, except he's younger and hasn't reached his traditional prime years yet.
“It definitely makes you put your head down and get to work,” Rivas said of the opportunity. “I've always been someone that tries to be very humble about it.
“You definitely want to be that next guy up. You want to be the guy that the team relies on. I'm excited to be that person. I’m definitely going to work towards being that person and help this club win.”