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. 



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.

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.

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

Cubs, meanwhile, go 2-10 with RISP.


NY Times weighs in on Cub Shortstoppery...

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

Carrie Muskat@CarrieMuskat ·

Szczur is in New York and will wear No 41.#Cubs.

Trying to remove the stank of Justin Germano and Jose Veras.

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)

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 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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