Sunday, July 10, 2011
Szczur has Cubs' attention
By Bruce Levine
PHOENIX -- In the opinion of Chicago Cubs management, the sky is the limit for 21-year-old Matt Szczur. The Cubs’ fifth-round draft pick in 2010 was recently promoted from low-A Peoria to high-A Daytona and it appears it’s for a good reason.
Matt Szczur was batting .321 with 20 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases at Single-A Peoria before be was promoted to Daytona.
The 6-1, 195-pound Szczur was tearing up the Midwest League, hitting .321 with 20 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases when the Cubs director of player personnel Oneira Fleita promoted the outfielder.
“I’ve had good support from the Cubs,” Szczur said before Sunday’s Futures Game at Chase Field in Phoenix. “I’ve been successful in Peoria and hopefully I’ll be successful in Daytona. “
The Cubs signed Szczur to a four-year contract worth more than $1 million to allow him to concentrate on baseball. Szczur was an all-purpose receiver at Villanova and a legitmate NFL prospect.
“I’m still learning the skill set in baseball,” Szczur said, “But I really think it’s coming for me. I played mostly football growing up, so I switched sports. The Cubs have been very supportive. They just want me to get experience and put the work in.”
Szczur could be a leadoff man in the big leagues, or hit further down in the order. The Cubs feel that he’ll be able to produce both speed and power as he progresses in his professional career.
“He’s an upper-tier runner in our organization already,” Fleita said. “And he has great hand-eye coordination. The way he’s playing, it appears he’ll only get better.”
Fleita believes that Szczur will be playing at Double-A Tennessee by next year and by age 22 could be projected on a fast track to Wrigley Field.
Szczur himself feels that all he needs is more repetition to round out his resume.
“I don’t have much experience yet and I’m working on my fundamentals,” Szczur said. “I believe my swing is coming along, but I’m learning to stay back on the ball and give it a better swing than just slapping at it.”
The Cubs are projecting an outfield of Brett Jackson, Tyler Colvin and Szczur sometime in the near future.