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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  • shelby miller (ATL) finishes the season with a win, snapping his 24-game winless streak...because ATL bats are non-existent.

    3.02 era, 1.25 whip, 205.1ip, 171K

    6-17 w/l...ugg.

  • Totally independent of the Cubs winning or losing today, Dan Haren came into today's game having earned $2M of his potential $3M in performance bonuses for 2015. 

    By making the start (his 32nd start of the season) he picked up $500K, and he'll get the remaining $500K if he can throw at least 8.2 IP in the game (he was at 181.1 IP coming into the game, and he needs to reach 190 IP to get the remaining $500K), 

    It's a bit like the old "Bowling for Dollars" TV show, but of course Haren is actually "Pitching for Dollars."

  • holy crap, MIL is just...awful.

  • i think he's currently playing for the Santo Domingo Meths. he's an Adderall-Star player there.

  • I'm longing for a Neifi sighting.

  • if you have stable/fast internet you can stream with and you don't mind giving up $20 a month check out "sling tv".

    TBS, TNT, ESPN 1+2, etc...100% legal.


  • 68 pitches (50 strikes)

    love seeing that...especially with the batters doing very little with it.

  • Yeah, keep him off the playoff roster.

  • Or, he's looked exactly like Ted Williams.

  • Lately he hasn't looked like Ted Williams...

  • Reading between the lines on some of his comments he seems to know his longish swing doesn't play well with a man on third and two outs, and two strikes on him. I doubt a playoff adjustment is happening, just something he'll need to figure out next year. I have this odd feeling he will.

  • Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 4m4 minutes ago
    Bryant leads NL rookies in HRs (26), RBIs (99), 2B (31) and runs (86). Last rookie to reach 26 HR, 99 RBI, 31 2bs, 86 runs and 74 BBs?

    Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 4m4 minutes ago
    Boston’s Ted Williams in 1939

  • Surprised and bummed that Mark Buehrle is retiring. One of my all-time favorite pitchers. I think he could pitch for 5 more years.

  • Probably going to a bar/restaurant with TBS. Cord-cutting is so over-rated.

  • Thanks for the update on Underwood.