Cubs Hail Szczur, Look to Buy a Vowel

The Cubs reportedly will be recalling Matt Szczur (AKA "Scrabble") from AAA Iowa tomorrow (Sunday), and so the 25-year old outfielder should be making his MLB debut sometime soon after that.


The speedy Szczur was hitting 261/315/312 with 30/78 BB/K (7% BB rate & 17% K rate) and 30 SB (7 CS) in 116 games (457 PA) at Iowa, but he hit 315/374/339 over his last 30 games (134 PA). He came into the 2014 season with a 285/353/397 slash line with 177/296 BB/K (8% BB rate & 14% K rate) and 90 SB (31 CS) in 375 career minor league games (2137 PA), He is a right-handed hitter, and he can play all three outfield positions, although he mostly hits lead-off and plays CF. He was rated both the Cubs #3 prospect and the fastest runner in the organization by Baseball America in 2012. 

Szczur was selected by the Cubs in the 5th round of the 2010 June draft out of Villanova University, where he was a two-sport star (football and baseball). He was considered a "tough sign" because it was thought that he would likely choose pro football over pro baseball, but the Cubs were able to sign him by giving him a $100K bonus and allowing him to continue to play college football. Szczur is the second player drafted and signed by the Cubs from the 2010 draft to reach the big leagues (41st round pick RHP Dallas Beeler was the first), although Cubs 2010 33rd round pick RHP Matt Stites (who did not sign) made his MLB debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 19th.   

And Szczur was indeed an outstanding college football player at Villanova, helping to lead the Wildcats to the NCAA FCS National Championship Game in 2010. He was considered a definite NFL prospect at the time, and was a "quadruple-threat" college football player, once scoring four touchdowns in a single game... one rushing, one passing, one receiving, and one on a punt return 

To keep Szczur from going to the NFL Combine in February 2011, the Cubs released him from his original contract and immediately re-signed him to new contract with a substantial bonus equivalent to "1st round money" ($1.5M). Because he was released and then re-signed by the same club, Szczur became eligible for the MLB Rule 5 Draft after that season (two years earlier than he otherwise would have been eligible), and so the Cubs had to place him on their MLB 40-man roster in November 2011 to avoid possibly losing him in the December 2011 Rule 5 Draft. 

Because he was added to an MLB 40-man roster so early in his career, Szczur is eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2015. 

Szczur is probably best-remembered as the guy who donated bone marrow to a young leukemia patient in the middle of the 2010 college baseball season, thus derailing his season (and potentially negatively impacting his future career in pro sports), but saving the life of the child. 

 

Comments

Hopefully Alcantara will improve with more time in CF. That E-8 is a play he's got to make.

back to rooting for a higher draft choice

Baez - man, make them throw one strike. Gonna be a tough learning curve to watch at times. Bases loaded, Rizzo on deck. They won't throw him a strike. Use your f'n head ONCE.

I'm wondering if they should show him some "tough love" and move him down in the order. Because if he's hitting 6th or 7th, you are right, he might not see any more strikes. This might force him into taking some walks.

Even an über optimist like me when it comes to prospects is a little worried about his approach up there lately. I know AAA isn't the majors but if he does all the time why would they ever have throw him a strike? The hit he got yesterday was grooved, probably a mistake. I happened to have the Mets broadcast on because the Cubs side had frozen up on my MLB app and Ron Darling was disgusted by the pitch, basically saying, why would you throw something like that to Baez? But really I bet it was a mistake pitch. I'm still hoping that he is just blown away by the ability of these pitchers to throw sliders off the plate so consistently without them going to the backstop. I would be tempted - even tho they don't want to mess with him right now - to order him to not take his bat off his shoulders for 4 ABs. It's not like they have to worry about him going all Hee Seop Choi on them.

Well yesterday's atbat was very poor in many ways and hopefully a great learning opportunity.

Bases loaded, down 4 late in the game. One of the leading power bats in the game behind you and you haven't taken a walk as a Major Leaguer. Something's got to give. In this case it was Javy. The first three pitches were low and away and he offered at two of them while popping out.

We all know that if he takes those first three pitches MANY good things start to happen. He might see a good pitch 3-0, or he walks in a run and Rizzo bats with less than two out as and representing the lead run.

It was just horrendous tunnel vision. They HAVE to give him the take sign if he can't do it himself. That said when he learns to take and starts seeing some fat pitches on hitters counts, well that's hitting intelligence.

It was a VERY bad at bat. He bats like a softball player who can't layoff but has been so good it didn't matter...

The weird thing is I did see him have one good at bat, yes, just one, where he seemed to work the count - I don't remember what happened. It made me very hopeful. Haven't seen him do it since and it was quite awhile ago.

looks like he's practicing taking walks today. 2 of them.

more Tommy Birch tweets...

Kris Bryant is out of the game. Walking back to the clubhouse with the trainer before the start of the 3rd inning.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/sports/base...

Wittenmeyer tweet:

Still awaiting official word on Bryant injury. Believed he aggravated minor foot injury from earlier in the week.

Tommy Birch:

Cubs confirm that Kris Bryant will get an MRI on Sunday. X-rays on his left big toe were inconclusive.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ND6ZtYsURGo/Ti2SRT4NiAI/...

Mets get 7 runs on 4 hits, none of which was a HR.

Cubs, meanwhile, go 2-10 with RISP.

Sigh.

NY Times weighs in on Cub Shortstoppery...

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/sports/baseball/...

Looks like NYT is still practicing pyramid style journalism. It's obvious there's a longer story somewhere, maybe in the print edition.

Szczur is in New York and will wear No 41.#Cubs.
----
I'm hoping Scrabble wanted Ernie Banks number but he's a bit dyslexic (hence all the c's and z's)

I just hope he plays everyday for awhile so we can figure out a good nickname for him.

I don't see Szczur starting over Coghlan, Alcantara, and Ruggs/Sweeney.

Coghlan has been really hot lately but let's see how he does over an extended period. Alcantara is still an unknown commodity. Ruggs and Sweeney are journeymen. So, yeah. I can see him starting over any of them depending on circumstances.

from Nick Cafardo's Sunday article:

There are only three players with double figure homers who have more homers than walks this season: Adam Jones (23 HR/15 BB), Mike Zunino (18/13), and Sean Rodriguez (11/9)

Javy Baez must have missed the list due to smallest sample size (4/0)

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/08/16/sunba...

Shockingly, Corey Patterson never achieved this feat.

I haven't seen the I-Cubs lineup today but it will be interesting to see if Olt goes back to 3B. Also Felix Dubront gets another start.

Olt is at 3B. Mota at 1B, Vitters in LF

Scrabble make his MLB debut...as a pinch runner for Sweeney. Sort of a waste given that Baker was bunting and hit a chopper over the pitcher. Sweeney would have been on 2nd anyway. So his role is being defined as a defensive replacement and pinch runner.

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  • vogelbomb debut for tacoma (AAA SEA)... 3-3, 1bb, 1 HR, 1 double...DH'd.

    while he mostly played 1st considerably more than DH for AAA CHC, DJ Peterson is probably going to see most of the time at 1st for AAA SEA.

    crunch 6 hours 42 min ago view
  • Carl Jr.! Very nice!

    Baez with another "WTF?" play trying a delayed steal with a runner on 3rd and one out.. Remarkable talent, needs to make better decisions.

    billybucks 7 hours 39 min ago view
  • m.montgomery up in the pen with a man on 2nd, 2 out, and rondon 20 pitches into the inning.

    ...and rondon ends it 22 pitches in with a popout to RF.

    crunch 7 hours 49 min ago view
  • I gotta say with the crappy defense the Brewers have displayed outside of Fowler I'm pretty disappointed the offense hasn't shown more and Rizzo seems to be very swing happy lately. That said my god am I happy Madden has finally given Carl Edwards a chance after multiple times up with nothing. I don't think he could handle a starting role with his body frame but his stuff plays so well in a relief role and he seems to be able to handle high stress situations very well.

    johann 8 hours 53 min ago view
  • 2nd at bat. Fowler is good for the Cubs run differential.

    Cubster 10 hours 29 min ago view
  • welcome back fowler.

    crunch 10 hours 55 min ago view
  • More slow news...

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/07/22/cubs-albert...

    Did Davey Martinez have to bring the shotgun?

    http://www.madcoversite.com/mad104printid.jpg

    Cubster 11 hours 17 min ago view
  • glad to see almora going to AAA to get work.

    .265/.291/.422 through 86PA...2hr, 7 doubles.

    i don't expect too much of an improvement when he's taking over CF next year, but the team doesn't really need him right now as much as they need him to get regular work (imo).

    crunch 13 hours 14 min ago view
  • CHITOWNMVP01: The Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) has had one slot open since 7/6 (when RHRP Joel Peralta was Designated for Assignment). 

    Arizona Phil 13 hours 44 min ago view
  • The problem with the September roster is all of the pitching changes. They should find a way to limit pitchers to twelve except for extra inning games. More pinch hitters or pinch runners do little to slow the game down and are more fun than endless calls to the bullpen. I also think the fans get cheated when they use position players to pitch because employed a half dozen pitchers with righty-lefty switches. Having as few as four positions players on the bench to start a game also leads to some pretty ugly defensive substitutions.

    Non Roster Invitee 13 hours 55 min ago view
  • CHITOWNMVP01: Joe Nathan's 30-day Article XIX-C minor league rehab assignment expires tomorrow, but he doesn't have to be reinstated from the 60-day DL tomorrow. 

    Arizona Phil 13 hours 59 min ago view
  • Also, I think 40 man roster should be full, not at 39, unless I counted wrong. I'm in a hurry to leave the house.

    chitownmvp01 14 hours 2 min ago view
  • Dexter Fowler is back! "You go, we go!"

    He's being activated for tonight's game. Almora down and Montgomery replaces Patton.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/17126605/chicago...

    Also, doesn't Nathan have to be activated tomorrow? Pitchers aren't allowed to spend more than 30 days of rehab and he was sent to rehab assignment on June 23rd. Tomorrow is July 23rd.

    chitownmvp01 14 hours 10 min ago view
  • Yeah, last night was a bummer. I clicked on the espn Gamecast just in time to see the 5-2 score change to 5-5.

    Their next 10 are Dodgers, Mets and Marlins.

    billybucks 16 hours 54 min ago view
  • Arizona Phil 17 hours 34 min ago view
  • Cubster 17 hours 38 min ago view