Results tagged ‘ Matt Szczur ’

Cubs active RHP Grimm; recall OF Szczur

Grimm

Justin Grimm returns to the Cubs after a stint on the DL. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs activated right-handed pitcher Justin Grimm off the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Matt Szczur from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. Outfielder Junior Lake has been optioned to Triple-A and right-handed pitcher Anthony Varvaro has been designated for assignment.

The 26-year-old Grimm returns to the Cubs after landing on the disabled list on April 10 with right forearm inflammation. He made one rehab appearance as part of his return, tossing a scoreless inning with a walk and two strikeouts on Monday for Iowa. Grimm made Chicago’s Opening Day roster for the second season in a row, but has yet to make his 2015 debut.

The right-hander went 5-2 with 11 holds and a 3.78 ERA (29 ER/69.0 IP) in 73 relief appearances last year with the Cubs, his first full season in the majors. Grimm tied for ninth in the National League in appearances while striking out 70 batters and walking only 27 in 69.0 innings. Overall, he stranded 25 of 30 inherited runners last year and posted a 2.60 ERA in 29 games following the All-Star break.

Grimm joined the Cubs as part of the five-player deal that sent pitcher Matt Garza to the Rangers on July 22, 2013. He was the American League Rookie of the Month with Texas in April 2013, and posted a 2.00 ERA (2 ER/9.0 IP) in 10 relief appearances with the Cubs following the trade that summer.

Szczur, 25, joins the Cubs for the second time this season. He was a member of Chicago’s Opening Day roster and batted .200 (2-for-10) with one double and one RBI in eight games before being optioned to Iowa on April 19. With Iowa, Szczur has batted .262 (11-for-42) with two homers, a triple and seven RBI in 11 games this season.

The outfielder made his major league debut with the Cubs last August and batted .226 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI in 33 games. Szczur has played 14 games in left field, nine games in center field and 13 games in right field during his big league career. Overall, he has batted .222 with three doubles, two home runs and six RBI in 41 career major league games.

Lake, 25, is hitting .286 (4-for-14) with one double and one RBI in four games with the Cubs this season. He is batting .289 (13-for-45) with two doubles and eight RBI in 13 games with Iowa this year.

Varvaro, 30, was claimed off waivers from Boston on Sunday and was added to the 25-man roster yesterday. He did not appear in Tuesday’s game. He was traded to the Red Sox on Dec. 17, 2014, and went 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in nine relief appearances this season before being designated for assignment on April 29.

Cubs trim spring roster to 54 players

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Slugger and 2013 first-round draft pick Kris Bryant has been assigned to minor league camp. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs have assigned 12 players to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 66 to 54 players.

Infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Logan Watkins, outfielder Matt Szczur and right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Outfielder Jorge Soler has been optioned to Double-A Tennessee.

Six nonroster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: right-handed pitchers Marcus Hatley and Carlos Pimentel, left-handed pitcher Eric Jokisch, infielders Kris Bryant and Jeudy Valdez, and outfielder Albert Almora.

Additionally, outfielder Aaron Cunningham has been granted his release.

Chicago’s spring roster now consists of 27 pitchers (seven nonroster invitees), five catchers (three nonroster invitees), 11 infielders (four nonroster invitees) and 11 outfielders (five nonroster invitees).

Cubs agree to terms with 19 players

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Welington Castillo was one of 19 players to agree to a deal with the Cubs Monday afternoon. (Image by Stephen Green)

The Cubs have come to terms with 19 players on their 40-man roster with zero-to-three years of major league service time. The terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

The players who have reached agreements include right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta, Dallas Beeler, Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, Blake Parker, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon and Arodys Vizcaino; left-handed pitchers Zac Rosscup and Chris Rusin; catcher Welington Castillo; infielders Arismendy Alcantara, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters.

From the Pages of Vine Line: 2014 Minor League Prospectus, Close to the Big Leagues

Alcantara

Infielder Arismendy Alcantara could see time at Wrigley Field this year.

(Photo by Rodger Wood)

For many Chicagoans, February means cold weather. At Vine Line, it’s all about the Cubs minor league prospectus. In the February issue, fans can check out frequent contributor Sahadev Sharma’s player breakdowns for more than 45 of the organization’s top prospects, from teenagers like Eloy Jimenez to elite talents like Javier Baez. We’ll post some of the profiles here on the blog in the coming weeks so you can keep track of all the names to know in the Cubs highly ranked system.

Also From the Series
2014 Minor League Prospectus- The Elite

Close to the Big Leagues
“The most important currency in the game right now, from a baseball standpoint, is either massive amounts of payroll flexibility or a real surplus of above-average young players who are major league ready or already making an impact in the big leagues,” said baseball president Theo Epstein at last December’s Winter Meetings.

Epstein admitted the Cubs aren’t where they want to be in either area, but said when it comes to the latter, they’ve taken the appropriate steps to get there soon. The front office has drafted well and made smart trades. As these prospects continue to develop and get closer to the majors, Epstein said, “They’re infinitely more valuable, to us and potentially in a trade, than they are while they’re working away in the farm system.”

Though none of the organization’s upper-tier players will be ready to start next season in the majors, there are several others who could make an appearance at Wrigley Field at some point in 2014. The Cubs may not compete for a division title this summer, but some prized young talent will likely provide a glimpse of just how good this team could be in the near future.

ARISMENDY ALCANTARA
DOB: 10/21/1991
POSITION: 2B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: TENNESSEE
2013 STATS: .271/.352/.451 (133 GAMES)

After spending much of his career at shortstop, Alcantara shifted to second base when Baez was moved up to Tennessee. He is solid with the glove, but his real value comes on offense. The switch-hitting leadoff man is one of the more dynamic players in the organization, with a rare speed-and-power combination to go along with on-base skills and the ability to play in the middle of the field.

A hot start to the season earned him a spot in the Futures Game, but the Dominican tapered off a bit in the second half. With a tremendous amount of ability and strong makeup, Alcantara has what it takes to excel in the majors, but the Cubs brass want to be sure he can perform consistently throughout the season before he gets the call to Wrigley.

DALLAS BEELER
DOB: 6/12/1989
POSITION: RHP
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: TENNESSEE
2013 STATS: 54.2 IP, 3.13 ERA, 35 K, 17 BB (9 STARTS)

A finger injury cut short Beeler’s 2013 season, but he looked good when he was on the mound and built on that success in the AFL. With his velocity ticking up to 94 mph and a newly developed cutter—which helped him fend off lefties, previously his bugaboo—Beeler looked like a new man. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but rather relies on his defense, inducing ground balls by staying low in the zone with impressive sinking action on his pitches.

Beeler was added to the 40-man roster to keep from losing him in the Rule 5 draft, something that was a legitimate concern after his impressive AFL performance. As a big, physical strike thrower who knows how to pitch, he fits the bill for what the Cubs are looking for in an arm.

BRETT JACKSON
DOB: 8/2/1988
POSITION: CF
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: .210/.296/.330 (95 GAMES)

It was just a few years ago that Jackson was supposed to join Starlin Castro on the big league roster and light up the North Side with his immense talents. The Cal-Berkeley product didn’t get his chance until the summer of 2012 and struggled mightily with his strikeout rate. After the season, Jackson worked hard on his swing in an effort to reduce the whiffs, but early on, nothing changed.

“He came into Spring Training, and I think when the results weren’t there right away, he probably started pressing a little bit,” McLeod said. “When he went to Iowa, he got off to a slow start. The strikeouts started piling up again, and then unfortunately he got nicked up and missed quite a bit of time before he came back.”

When he returned to action, the Cubs sent him to Double-A, where his struggles continued. But the organization hasn’t given up on Jackson, who, from a physical standpoint, can do a lot of things not many others can do on a baseball field. Given a fresh start, the team hopes he can put a horrendous 2013 season behind him and somehow reduce his swing-and-miss tendencies. His combination of power, speed and defense could definitely come in handy for a major league club searching for high-end talent in the outfield.

MIKE OLT
DOB: 8/27/1988
POSITION: 3B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: .201/.303/.381 (107 GAMES)

Olt is another third baseman who may end up at Triple-A. Once deemed untouchable in the Texas organization, he found himself battling eye issues last season as his prospect status tumbled. He was ultimately swapped with other players for Matt Garza. The two keys for Olt will be putting his poor season in the rearview mirror and finding whatever it is he needs to take care of his vision problems.

Like Vitters, Olt will be moved around the field to increase his value, playing his normal third base, along with some first base and corner outfield. He strikes out a lot, but when he’s right, the whiffs are mitigated by his plus power and ability to take a walk. He is also an excellent defender at third. The Cubs would love nothing more than for Olt to come into camp healthy and hitting, and stake a claim to the big league third-base job early on.

JOSH VITTERS
DOB: 8/27/1989
POSITION: 3B
HIGHEST 2013 LEVEL: IOWA
2013 STATS: .267/.368/.465 (33 GAMES)

When Vitters plays, he usually hits. Unfortunately, he was waylaid by injuries for much of 2013. Add in the Cubs’ newfound system depth at the hot corner, and suddenly Vitters is a player without a position. Though he’s been in the organization for seven years and already has had a taste of major league action, Vitters is still only 24.

Now that Triple-A first baseman Justin Bour was selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, Vitters will get some time at first base as well as in the outfield at Iowa to increase his versatility and value going forward.

The California native doesn’t take many walks and only flashes average power, but if he can find a spot defensively, he has a chance to be a solid contributor. His ability to hit could help him become a serviceable asset in the majors. Because his hand-eye coordination is good enough that he makes contact with almost everything, pitch selection will be key.

Others to Watch
ALBERTO CABRERA (RHP)
– After being used as a starter in 2013, Cabrera will likely contend for a bullpen spot next spring. He has a big fastball and a wipeout slider, which could make him a very valuable weapon in a late-inning role.

ERIC JOKISCH (LHP) – The Northwestern alum doesn’t light up the radar gun, but he is a big, durable, left-handed starter. Though Jokisch eats a lot of innings and throws strikes with an 87-90 mph fastball and a strong change-up, he needs to tighten up his breaking ball. He doesn’t have plus stuff to wow scouts, but he could be a more physical version of Chris Rusin.

ARMANDO RIVERO (RHP) – A hard thrower from Cuba, Rivero hits the mid-90s and has a diagonal-slanting slider. He looked strong in the minors and though the results weren’t great in the AFL, the experience gave him much-needed innings against a higher level of competition. He could be a factor in the bullpen in the near future.

MATT SZCZUR (OF) – Szczur, a steady performer throughout his minor league career, improved in numerous offensive categories in 2013 and took a step forward defensively. The hard-nosed, athletic outfielder will likely start the season in Triple-A and has a chance to contribute at the big league level as a fourth outfielder in the Reed Johnson mold.

TONY ZYCH (RHP) – Zych has top-notch velocity in the 95-98 mph range, but he sometimes struggles to miss bats. He throws a lot of strikes, but the quality can waver night to night due to an inconsistent delivery that requires some effort and energy. When it’s working, the velocity is elite, and he has a hard, sweeping slider that could be effective in high-leverage situations out of the bullpen.

—Sahadev Sharma

Cubs minor league recap: 4/8/13

Jackson-for-Web

Brett Jackson recorded a team-high two RBI for Iowa Monday. (Photo by Stephen Green)

The Kane County Cougars picked up their first win of the season Monday, while the Iowa Cubs surrendered their fifth-straight loss. Here are the highlights from Monday’s games:

IOWA CUBS (0-5)
Iowa suffered its fifth-straight loss to open the season, surrendering six first-inning runs in a 13-5 setback at Round Rock.

  • 2B Logan Watkins (.368) went 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and a RBI.
  • CF Brett Jackson (.238) was 2-for-4 with a double and a team-high two RBI (2).
  • SS Donnie Murphy (.300) was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
  • RF Brian Bogusevic (.389) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an outfield assist.
  • RHP Blake Parker (6.75) walked one and fanned two in 1.1 scoreless innings of relief.

TENNESSEE SMOKIES (2-3)
Tennessee lost its second game in a row, dropping a 2-1 pitchers’ duel at Pensacola.

  • CF Matt Szczur (.409) reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base.
  • SS Arismendy Alcantara (.261) added two hits, going 2-for-4.
  • LF Rubi Silva (.154) went 1-for-4 with a stolen base.
  • LHP Zach Rosscup (0.00) allowed one hit while fanning three in 1.0 scoreless inning of relief.
  • RHP Trey McNutt (0.00) fanned one in a perfect eighth inning.

DAYTONA CUBS (3-1)
Daytona had the day off. The D-Cubs return to action Tuesday, hosting Clearwater.

KANE COUNTY COUGARS (1-4)
Kane County squandered a 5-1 eighth-inning lead, but plated a run in the bottom of the 10th to defeat visiting Clinton 6-5 in walk-off fashion, snapping a season-opening, four-game skid.

  • 2B Gioskar Amaya (.238) went 3-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and a stolen base.
  • C Chadd Krist (.625) was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored.
  • RF Bijan Rademacher (.214) added three hits, going 3-for-5 with a team-high three RBI and an outfield assist.
  • 1B Rock Shoulders (2-for-5, R) and LF Pin-Chieh Chen (2-for-5, R) both had multi-hit performances.

Smokies primed for a competitive run

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The Smokies return slugger Justin Bour. (Photo by Rodger Wood)

Coming off of a 2011 Florida State League title, many believed the Tennessee Smokies were destined to repeat in 2012. But that didn’t happen, as the team hovered around .500 for much of the year, finishing 72-68.

This year’s Smokies might not have the hype of the 2012 squad, but after retaining 17 players and adding a few highly touted prospects, a league title could again be in their sights.

The 2013 offense is fronted by a few key returnees in Justin Bour and Matt Szczur. Bour, a 24-year-old first baseman, was the rock in the middle of the order last season, hitting .283/.360/.455 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 17 homers and a franchise-record 110 driven in. If he’s not moved up, he could near that RBI total again, especially considering Szczur and newcomer Arismendy Alcantara will bat ahead of him in the lineup.

Former fifth-round pick Szczur was all over Single-A hitting before his call-up last season. Though he struggled at Double-A (.210/.285/.357 in 35 games), he performed well in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .264 and drawing 14 walks in 105 at-bats. He also stole nine bases.

The 21-year-old Alcantara was promoted after a stellar 2012 in Daytona, where he hit .302/.339/.447 with 13 doubles and swiped 25 bags. The versatile infielder will likely line up at short, and he’s a tough out at the plate.

Alberto Cabrera is a Tennessee newcomer who will head a rotation that features three returnees. The 24-year-old Cabrera pitched in relief for the first time in his career last season and reached the majors, where he went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 21.2 innings. Eric Jokisch, Dae-Eun Rhee, Dallas Beeler and call-up Kyle Hendricks round out the starting staff.

Buddy Bailey returns to manage the Smokies, who play Friday night at 7 p.m. CST. Here’s the roster Bailey will have to work with to start season:

PITCHERS
Frank Batista RHP
Dallas Beeler RHP
Alberto Cabrera RHP
Marcus Hatley RHP
Kyle Hendricks RHP
Eric Jokisch LHP
Trey McNutt RHP
A.J. Morris RHP
Kevin Rhoderick RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee RHP
Zach Rosscup LHP
Brian Schlitter RHP
Tony Zych RHP

CATCHERS
Jair Fernandez
Rafael Lopez

INFIELDERS
Arismendy Alcantara
Justin Bour
Anthony Giansanti
Jonathan Mota
Elliot Soto
Tim Torres
Christian Villanueva

OUTFIELDERS
Johermyn Chavez
Jae-Hoon Ha
Rubi Silva
Matt Szczur

Bogusevic at first, Cubs demote three

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs outfielder Brian Bogusevic knows a thing or two about the city of Chicago. Born in the south suburb of Oak Lawn, the 29-year-old attended De La Salle High School before going to school at Tulane University. Now the 2005 first-round draft pick by the Astros is hoping for an opportunity to play in the city where it all started.

The outfielder got his first taste of the big leagues in 2010, playing in only 19 games for the Astros. He was solid in 87 games for Houston the following season, hitting .287/.348/.457 with 14 doubles while rotating between the corner outfield spots. In nearly a full season in 2012, however, he hit just .203 despite drawing 41 walks in 404 plate appearances. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a shot at making the Opening Day roster for the Cubs.

This spring, Bogusevic has been on a tear, hitting .429 with a homer and four RBI in 24 plate appearances. Manager Dale Sveum called him this year’s Joe Mather, a reference to the utility player who broke camp with the Cubs last season despite being a non-roster invitee. The Chicago native is penciled in to start at first base Friday against the Reds, though rain will likely prevent any action from taking place.

Nick Struck is scheduled to throw for the Cubs. The organization’s 2012 minor league pitcher of the year has made two appearances this spring, giving up one run over five innings and striking out two. Opposite Struck will be lefty Tony Cingrani for Cincinnati. The game is slated for 8:05 CST and fans can listen to the webcast at Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup Cingrani could face:

LF Dave Sappelt
2B Darwin Barney
CF Scott Hairston
DH Alfonso Soriano
SS Luis Valbuena
C Dioner Navarro
RF Jorge Soler
3B Junior Lake
1B Brian Bogusevic

Cubs Notes: Earlier in the day, the team sent catcher Michael Brenly and pitcher Dayan Diaz to minor league camp, and outfielder Matt Szczur to Double-A.

Cubs sign 21 pre-arbitration players

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs agreed to terms with all 21 pre-arbitration eligible players currently on the organization’s 40-man roster Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

Right-handed pitchers Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack; and lefties Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin and Travis Wood were all signed to new deals.

Catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger; infielders Darwin Barney, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur also earned updated contracts.

Prospectus Preview: Close to the Majors, Matt Szczur

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(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.

2013 Cubs Convention is up and running

Szczur

The 28th annual Cubs Convention kicked off tonight in the Grand ballroom of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.

A per tradition, the Convention kicked off with the Opening Ceremonies. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts began by talking about his family’s commitment to achieving three goals: winning a world championship, preserving Wrigley Field and being a good neighbor in Chicago. He also spoke about Chicago Cubs Charities work with the RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and introduced a group of kids and coaches from the program.

The Chicago Cubs RBI program is run through the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs in Chicago and supported through a grant from Cubs Care, which provides $100,000 to fund the entire effort. RBI offers nearly 300 inner city youth the opportunity to play ball and participate in weekend tournaments. Ricketts announced that 11 high school seniors of the Chicago Cubs RBI program have been offered college scholarships to play baseball next year.

After a video about the team, the players entered the hall down a red carpet that ran through the middle of the crowd. This allowed fans an opportunity to interact with the 2013 team. The Cubs introduced veteran players, including new veteran Kerry Wood, and some of the top prospects, who have been in town all week as part of the Rookie Development Program. Fans also got a chance to see many of the newest Cubs, including free agent signee Edwin Jackson, up close.

The evening ended with an autograph hunt game that saw players, prospects and alumni scattered all over the Convention hall. Top prospects Matt Szczur and Javier Baez joined us at the Vine Line booth.

The Convention starts back up tomorrow morning with the Ricketts Family Forum at 9 a.m.

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