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).


 

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  • he should hit more of those. that would be an ideal outcome. /moneyballs

    crunch 37 min 10 sec ago view
  • Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.

    billybucks 1 hour 18 min ago view
  • ...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.

    I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.

    He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.

    billybucks 1 hour 22 min ago view
  • How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.

    videographer 3 hours 17 min ago view
  • If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic

    jacos 5 hours 5 min ago view
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 5 hours 39 min ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 5 hours 53 min ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 7 hours 16 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 17 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 24 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 7 hours 27 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 31 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 7 hours 40 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 7 hours 41 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 7 hours 47 min ago view
  • QuietMan 7 hours 55 min ago view