Back in December, the Red Sox completed a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres to acquire Adrian Gonzalez, sending away three premier prospects and Eric Patterson.
As the North County Times points out, two of those prospects, Casey Kelly, who ranks 19th on Keith Law's Top 100 prospects of 2011, and Anthony Rizzo, who ranks 38th, have dismissed the pressure of replacing the Padres' former star first baseman.
"I don't play first base, so I definitely can't be Adrian Gonzalez and I can't hit home runs like him," Kelly joked with the North County Times.
"I think coming in here, I put more pressure on myself than anybody else does," Kelly added. "Obviously, [Gonzalez] is a tremendous player, and it's big pressure to be traded for him, but at the same time, I don't look at it as that. I look at what I need to do to put myself in the right position to succeed the most."
Like Kelly, Rizzo is downplaying the pressure but hopes to just be nearly as good as Gonzalez.
"He's a proven big leaguer over five or six years now," Rizzo said. "I don't expect to be called up and hit 100 home runs and drive in 100 RBIs right away. It's a process. It's an adjustment. I'll be ready for the adjustment and to start my own legacy.
"Especially with Adrian — he got to live the ultimate kid's dream of playing for his hometown. He's a homegrown guy. I don't think I'll ever be able to replace him and what he's done for this community, but hopefully I can come close to it."
As a 20-year-old at Double-A with the Portland Sea Dogs, Rizzo had very similar, if not better stats than did Gonzalez during his tenure in Portland as a 20-year-old in the Marlins organization when the Sea Dogs were Florida's Double-A affiliate.
Last season, Rizzo had a .263 batting average with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs, while in 2002, Gonzalez had a .266 batting average with 17 home runs and 96 RBIs. However, Gonzalez had 106 more plate appearances that season.
Randy Smith, the Padres' director of player development and international scouting, also reflected on Rizzo, and the other two prospects, not having to compare themselves to Gonzalez.
"We're just saying, 'Hey, just because you were traded for Adrian, no one expects you to be Adrian. You've got to be yourselves. Don't try to be something that you're not. He's in Boston; you're here,'" Smith told the North County Times. "All three [Kelly, Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes] have a real good head on their shoulders. They're good kids, they're level-headed, and I think they'll make the transition pretty good."
Gonzalez may be the new big ticket at Fenway Park now, but in the near future Kelly and Rizzo could be the big attractions at Petco Park.
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