Prospectus Preview: Close to the Majors, Matt Szczur


(Photo by Rodger Wood)

Close to the Majors / Junior Lake

Close to the Majors / Tony Zych

Down the Pipeline / Dan Vogelbach

Trades and Claims / Hunter Cervenka

2012 Draft / Stephen Bruno

Close to the Majors / Robert Whitenack

2012 Draft / Pierce Johnson

Down the Pipeline / Jeimer Candelario

Close to the Majors / Nick Struck

2012 International / Jorge Soler

2012 Trades and Claims / Barret Loux

Even in the unlikely event Matt Szczur’s career doesn’t pan out, at the very least he’s a wildly entertaining player. But with the way the 22-year-old took care of business last season—especially at Single-A Daytona—”not panning out” seems like an unlikely scenario. Szczur is a monster athlete who makes things happen every time he steps on the field.

The Villanova wide receiver-turned-outfielder enjoyed quite a bit of success in the Florida State League last year, hitting .295/.394/.407 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and drawing 47 walks in 352 plate appearances. Despite a late July call-up to Double-A Tennessee, his 38 stolen bases were still fourth best in the FSL.

Though he struggled after making the difficult jump to Double-A (.210/.285/.357 in 35 games), the Cubs sent Szczur to the Arizona Fall League, an after-season league typically reserved for organizations’ top prospects. While there, he hit .264 and drew 14 walks in 91 at-bats. He also swiped nine bases.

The Cubs added Szczur to the 40-man roster this season, and he has been working out with the major leaguers in Mesa, Ariz. This afternoon, he will be batting second and playing center field for the White team in the Cubs’ intrasquad scrimmage, a game that will consist mainly of fringe players and high-upside prospects.

Szczur, who is expected to man the outfield in Tennessee to start the 2013 season, is one of more than 60 players covered in Vine Line’s annual Minor League Prospectus. The issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. It’s an exhaustive rundown, perfect for Spring Training and beyond.

OF | Matt Szczur
Ht./Wt.: 6-1/195
B/T: R/R
Born: 7/20/89 in Cape May
Acquired: 2010 Draft (5)
Tools: Hits for Average, Glove, Speed
2012 STATS (High-A): .295/.394/.407 in 78 games (Double-A): .210/.285/.357 in 35 games

It was a good developmental year for Szczur, an ultra-exciting, plus athlete who is looking to turn raw tools into game utility. Because of his athleticism, Szczur (pronounced See-zur) has huge upside, but he’s more raw than the typical 22-year-old because he spent much of his life playing football. He got pull-happy last year, rolling over pitches and losing points on his batting average, but he does a great job of drawing walks and can steal bases. He’ll return for a full year at Double-A, where the Cubs hope to see him taking pitches back up the middle and developing his hit tool.

Other players featured in this section: infielders Junior Lake, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; outfielder Brett Jackson; and pitchers Alberto Cabrera, Trey McNutt, Brooks Raley, Nick Struck, Robert Whitenack and Tony Zych.

Plus, tidbits on OF Jae-Hoon Ha, LHP Chris Rusin, LHP Frank Del Valle, LHP Zach Rosscup, RHP Matt Loosen, IF Justin Bour, RHP Marcus Hatley, LHP Austin Kirk and RHP Eric Jokisch.


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