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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  • Sure, no marks and some inconsistencies in the witness's statements. But firing your gun into garage wall immediately after an argument and punching out your car window is still threatening and out of control behavior. There was certainly enough for MLB to think it warranted a 30-game suspension.

    Charlie 29 min 12 sec ago view
  • I'd prefer they be flexible with the closing situation depending on matchups. You're not really adding a lefty reliever if you use him strictly as a closer.

    Charlie 29 min 44 sec ago view
  • Stockpiling young talent isn't only for trading for someone like Chapman though. Even with an elite closer winning the World Series is basically a crap shoot so the key is to get to the playoffs as much as possible and not just mortgage everything on one year. Once you get there an elite bullpen certainly helps but the playoffs can be won by one hitter or starting pitcher getting hot (Murphy, Molina, Baumgardner) and a closer might not be able to stop that.

    johann 54 min 3 sec ago view
  • I'm also not crazy about press convictions. As the police report noted, there were no marks on the lady in question. There's a TMZ link (of course) to her police pictures, as well.

    I think the only way this trade goes real bad is if Cubbery intervenes and Chapman is suddenly bad for some reason.

    Old and Blue 57 min 24 sec ago view
  • I am right there with you closing in on 60.

    I don't care that much about "mortgaging" one player who is not only blocked by two guys, but is not ready to hit the majors for at least a couple years.

    There is no reason why this team, this year, can't have a real shot at something NONE of us have experienced.

    Further, I don't feel that even if they fall short that they have ruined their farm system.

    I have made my opinion clear here, with others, Warren was shit on the Cubs save one spot start.

    The E-Man 2 hours 27 min ago view
  • Trading for Warren, Warren sucking, getting Warren back for Chapman plus 3 prospects, sounds like Revenge of The Yankees on the former Boston executive. Old rivalries never die.

    I pray to the heavens above Chapman doesn't suck for some reason, or he'll be booed out of town faster than a Todd Hundley revival meeting.

    Old and Blue 2 hours 34 min ago view
  • I'm kind of nostalgic for the Schwarber-for-Miller rumors.

    Brick 2 hours 46 min ago view
  • This offseason, after some ridiculous playoff run and Chapman saving every game from here until the end of the postseason striking out 27/9innings, I welcome anyone to quote this thread and call me a dummy: I hate this trade, and my hate is 2 parts Chapman makes this team less likeable and 1 part that's a ridiculous overpay for 30 regular season innings and, at tops, 10 postseason innings. Already hoping they don't extend him.

    Charlie 2 hours 48 min ago view
  • btw...Thanks AZ Phil. I'm really enjoying your take on this trade.

    Cubster 3 hours 10 min ago view
  • I'm a bit disappointed on the Warren experience. Essentially they gave Castro away for crickets (OK, well they signed Zobrist with the Castro salary dump). Otherwise one might look at it as Chapman for Castro and our #1 minors prospect (Torres) + McKinney/Crawford. Seems pricey for a 2 month rental. We will see if this price tag is that steep in a relative way based on the remaining deadline deals for relievers.

    Cubster 3 hours 11 min ago view
  • Yep. One of the great things about this team (in addition to being really good at baseball) was the "likable" factor. Feels a bit different now. Who knows...maybe Chapman will be the king of the dance parties.

    billybucks 3 hours 19 min ago view
  • Here are some possible corresponding minor league moves we might see in the aftermath  of the Chapman trade: 

    SOUTH BEND to MYRTLE BEACH: OF Donnie Dewees and INF Bryant Flete  

    EUGENE to SOUTH BEND: OF Robert Garcia and INF Vimael Machin 

    There is really no reason to replace Billy McKinney at Tennessee because both Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler are doing their rehab at Tennessee.  

    And there are plenty of pitchers at Iowa. No need to replace Warren at AAA. .  

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 39 min ago view
  • I am 70 years old. The Cubs last played in the World Series in 1945. I was born in 1946. I hate to lose a prospect like Torres, but when the opportunity is there to get that World Series ring, you go for it. This was the idea in stock piling all this young talent. I would like to see Reddick added now and the Cubbies should be done.

    Hagsag 4 hours 10 min ago view
  • I would expect Richard to accept an optional assignment because based on how he's played this season, there is a decent chance that he won't find work elsewhere. Rather stay and potentially get a ring. Same goes for Coghlan since he's struggled mightily this year.

    Edwards should not go down. He's pitched very well and Maddon is very impressed with him. I would expect Grimm to go down for Cahill so he can get back on track (he's pitched better in July, but he's not getting enough appearances).

    chitownmvp01 4 hours 14 min ago view
  • chitownmvp01: Indeed Clayton Richard would seem to be odd man out once Chapman reports, but Richard might accept a minor league assignment if he is promised a return to Chicago on 9/1 when MLB Active List rosters expand (Richard has minor league ioptions left).

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 17 min ago view
  • The only player in the deal that would cause me a second thought is Gleyber Torres.

    McKinney and Crawford are decent prospects but both are redundant/replaceable in the system and Warren was really only a middle-reliever or #6 starter, so to me it's really just Torres for Chapman.

    Arizona Phil 4 hours 37 min ago view