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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  • Hagsag 6 hours 21 min ago (view)

    Tommy Birch tweets that Taylor Davis has signed with the Orioles. Hate to see him go. I will never forget his GS against the Deadbirds.

     

  • crunch 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    cubs trade for travis lakins for a PTBNL or cash considerations from the rsox.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lakin...

     

  • Charlie 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    I mean, the "overrated" criticism is always more about other people deserving of the honor being snubbed or put through more rigamarole. Jeter was definitely a great player for a long time. I just want people to remember that guys like Scott Rolen are not 60% less deserving, as the current voting system seems to indicate.

     

  • crunch 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    speaking of the HOF...

    schilling had a nice bump in his 8th eligable year going from 60.9% to 70.0%.  he's probably gonna get in next year...and if not for his abrasive personality and questionable interests outside of baseball he would probably already be in.  he's good enough to be there based on performance alone.

    fellow 8th year guys bonds and clemens held steady, going up around 1% point to 60%-ish range.  they may or may not get some love entering their 9th or 10th years.

     

  • crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    m.ozuna signs with the braves 1/18m.

    he was expected to sign for similar pay over a number of years.  the cards must be "wtf?" about him walking away from the 17.8m qualifying offer, though.  at least they get a draft pick out of it.

     

  • crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    5x gold glove...and earned 0 of them.

    whatever.  hell of a hitter, and he played SS "good enough" to not embarass himself or the team.

    but yeah, overrated even if he's a no-doubt 1st ballot hall of famer...which seems like an odd thing to say even if it's true (at least in the eyes of many).

     

  • Charlie 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    That's a significant boost for being the face of the Yankees. Expected, but in retrospect he wasn't that much better than plenty of people who didn't have full support for the hall (Santo comes to mind).

    *Tries to start an "over-rated" chant.*

     

  • crunch 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    d.jeter and l.walker (10th and final year on ballot, 76.6%) are going to the HOF.

    jeter got 99.75% of the vote...highest for a position player (griffey jr 99.32% 2016).  m.rivera got 100% last year.

    larry walker decided to dress up for his first post-election interview.  class act.

    https://i.ibb.co/Dfqtz1p/EO15-ODUX0-AU6id-Y-format...

     

  • crunch 2 days 1 hour ago (view)

    nice.  i love seeing the undrafted who still try to make a career get a shot.

    it seems he's somewhat recently hit 97mph on his fastball which helped attract some interest.

    https://uspbl.com/max-bain-signs-with-chicago-cubs/

    good luck to the dude.

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have released eight players from their Dominican Academy: RHRP Donato Auguste, RHRP Marco Encarnacion, RHRP Rodrigo Garcia, RHRP Francisco Gracia, LHRP Anderson Parra, RHRP Willians Vasquez, 1B Jeinser Brete, and OF Kevin Miranda.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    Rex Brothers has one minor league option left and Article XX-D status (so he can elect free-agency if outrighted) if he were to be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at some point in 2020. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    RHSP Max Bain (contract acquired by Cubs from Utica Unicorns of USPBL last week) minor league UPC has not yet been filed with MLB. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    The Josh Phegley, Bryan Brickhouse, Rex Brothers, Juan Gamez, and Caleb Simpson minor league contracts have been filed with MLB, but the Tyler Olson and Jason Adam contracts are still pending.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed LHRP Rex Brothers (ex COL, ex-ATL), RHRP Bryan Brickhouse, RHRP Juan Gamez (pitched in Mexican League in 2019), and RHRP Caleb Simpson to minor l;eague contracts, and Brothers is the only one of the four likely receive an NRI to Cubs MLB Spring Training. 

     

  • crunch 2 days 19 hours ago (view)

    ummm...nevermind...

    ""There’s a lot of disrespect from people there that I don’t want to be a part of," Arenado said. "You can quote that." Arenado added, "You ask what I thought of Jeff’s quotes and I say I don’t care what people say around there. There is a lot of disrespect."

    The third baseman didn't want to elaborate on what he felt was disrespectful, but clearing the relationship between Arenado and the front office needs to be repaired."

     

  • crunch 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    some good news...or bad news depending on how you feel about it...for the k.bryant trade market...

    "Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich on Monday indicated that Nolan Arenado will not be dealt prior to spring training and trade talks involving the third baseman are off for now."

    now MLB and crew need to decide whether bryant has an extra year of club control or not...still waiting...

    rangers, braves, and nats are supposedly looking at 3rd base upgrades.  cards are, too, but bryant to the cards would be a mutiny level trade decision.