Keep An Eye On Szczur

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After Hayden Simpson, no Cubs 2010 draft pick has had more written about him than Matthew Szczur, but this time there is no controversy. Szczur was a great hitter in college, donated bone marrow to a young girl, and won a national championship (the real playoff kind) playing football for Villanova. Not only could he be the steal of the draft, he could the first player from the Cubs 2010 draft to reach Wrigley. Break out your chalkboard and start practicing that last name Cubs fans. If he decides his career is in baseball, you’ll be typing it a lot in the years to come.

Going into the MLB Draft there were clear questions about which sport he would decide on, and I have to think that is a large part of why he fell to the fifth round. He has speed, he has power, he hit for average off college pitching, and it is hard to knock the character of a guy who donates bone marrow. Regardless of why he slid, the Cubs were more than happy to pick him up. He signed right away and started his Cubs career. In 25 games, he rocketed through three levels.

One game in the rookie league, then he was assigned to Short Season A Boise. His line in Boise reads like a video game (.397/.439/.521). After just 18 games of beating up pitchers in the Northwest, the Cubs sent him to Peoria to finish the season. In six games his numbers came back to earth, but six games isn’t much to go on. Just how fast Szczur will rise is something we’ll find out in 2011.

From a major league perspective, Szczur is most likely a centerfielder. He did some catching in college and it isn’t impossible that he could move back behind the plate at some point, but it would greatly surprise me. His speed is made for chasing down fly balls, not foul tips. At 6’1” 190lbs, he isn’t the biggest guy on the diamond, but he still shows plenty of power. He might turn into a 30HR / 30 SB guy, but then again he might not. Since his power in college came off an aluminum bat, I want to wait awhile before I get excited about that part of his game. I think it will easily be enough to land him a job one day.

So, where does he start in 2010, and where does he finish? It just depends on how well he adjusts from hitting college pitching to hitting at each minor league level. The Cubs will likely keep moving him until he is challenged, and if his strikeout and walk numbers mean he has the batting eye I think he does, it might be awhile before he is challenged. Peoria fans, you are in luck. I would be very surprised if he starts 2010 anywhere else. Don’t worry Daytona fans, I think he’ll pay you a visit as well. Tennessee fans? Keep an eye out late in the year. He could finish the year with a cup of coffee in Double A. Wrigley Field? September 2012 is the earliest I am comfortable with right now. But don’t worry; we’ll all be hearing plenty about him before then.