Szczur Advancing Along Nicely as Solar Sox Lead-off Hitter

The Mesa Solar Sox were drubbed by the Peoria Javelinas 9-2 yesterday in AFL action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

Only two Cubs played in the game, as Matt Szczur got the start in CF and batted lead-off, and Javier Baez hit 5th and played SS.

Szczur continued his hot hitting with a 3-4 day (he's now hitting 368/478/421), grounding a single through the 5.5 hole in his first AB, bouncing a chopper down the LF line (ball bounced just beyond the outstretched glove of the diving third-baseman) for an RBI double in the 5th, and collecting an infield single in the 8th (grounder hit to almost the exact same place as his 1st inning single, but this time the Peoria SS was able to back-hand the ball, with Szczur beating the throw to 1st). He also flied out to LF in the third inning.

The 23-year old Szczur appears to be developing into a decent lead-off hitter, and he's a good defensive CF, too. He's probably not ever going to be a slugger (his stroke is similar to Darwin Barney's), but he is starting to show a propensity for working counts and drawing walks, and if he can do that, he could be a legitimate lead-off hitter and CF (although whether that would be with the Cubs or some other MLB club is still TBD).

The ex-Cub Szczur reminds me of the most is Bob Dernier. If Szczur makes it, that's his comp... Bob Dernier.

Szczur hit 295/394/407 with 38 SB (12 CS) in 78 games at Daytona before a mid-season promotion to AA Tennessee, where he struggled, hitting just 210/285/351 in 35 games. But the AFL is approximately equivalent to AA, so if he can keep up his solid stick-work throughout the AFL season, that could bode well for Szczur having some success at AA next season.

Meanwhile, Baez went 0-4 in the game.

The 19-year old Cub batted in the bottom of the 1st with one out and the bases loaded, and popped-up a 2-0 pitch behind second-base. The Peoria RF dropped the ball while trying to make a running catch, but was still able to get a force-out at 2nd base as the runner at 3rd base scored. So no error was charged (because Peoria got an out at 2nd base), and Baez got an RBI (because the runner at 3rd scored).

Baez struck out (swinging) in the 4th on a 3-2 pitch, lined-out to third in the 7th, and grounded out to third in his final in the 9th.

(In 21 PA over five AFL games so far, Baez has no walks and seven strikeouts, although he also has two HR & eight RBI).

Baez handled all of his chances at shortstop today flawlessly, making a couple of accurate off-balance throws to 1st base, and making a nifty catch on a knuckling line-drive.

The big difference between Baez playing shortstop versus playing 3rd base is that when he plays shortstop, he is at the center of everything, and he really seems to take pride in the role of "field captain." He talks to all of the fielders (infielders and outfielders), directs guys around, reminds them of how many outs there are, etc. But when he played 3rd base last week, he just stood there like he was lost in his own little world, he didn't talk to anyone, and he appeared to be disengaged from the game (while making an error or a near-error on every ball hit his way).


Recent comments

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  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.

  • most likely cost sharing + the league is short on players anyway. not many teams are chipping in on 'advanced instructional.'

  • I'm glad this is a one game playoff coming up, because McCutchen is one of my favorite MLB players. And as a baseball fan, I rather like the Pirates. I hope we beat them bad, of course. No mixed feelings here. And, I don't want a nail biter. Too old for that shit. The team of moran fans is easy to hate, though, and more suitable for a longer series.

  • A Jurickson Profar sighting!!!!???

  • I'd guess Jackson over Coghlan for the defense.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, is Jackson a better defender?

  • Less stress on the pitching staff?

  • I recall earlier this season when the Cubs played Bryant in center instead of left due to the weirdness that is the PNC outfield.

  • AZ Phil, what is the reason the Cubs are co-oping this team? They seem to have plenty of talent that would fill a roster.

  • RF is actually easier to play than LF in PNC so I'd guess Schwarber is there and that's why he was playing it Friday but yeah I'd say that's hopefully accurate.

  • Guess for Wednesday's lineup: Fowler (CF), Schwarber (LF), Bryant (3B), Rizzo (1B), Castro (2B), Montero (C), Russell (SS), Arrieta (P), Coughlan (RF)

  • Dusty already has blue and red wrist bands.

    /cmon dude