The minor league season ends today and we'll be starting a four to five week series in which Sitrick, Myles and I review numerous 2013 Cubs prospects. Our goal is to write about no less than 40 Cubs prospects and we intend to be finished with the reviews by the time the postseason begins. We'll have two reviews published each weekday with the exception of Friday in which we'll publish just one. Do not read anything into the order in which the players are reviewed. After we concluded the series, we'll bring you our updated top prospects ratings. You will find player review links at the bottom of each post.
Matt Szczur was drafted in the 5th round in 2010 and signed for $100,000. He returned to Villanova to complete his senior year and play wide receiver. At the time of the draft, Baseball America considered him a "legit NFL Draft prospect". After the 6-1, 195 pound righty finished his senior season, the Cubs signed him away from football for $1.5 million.
Szczur hasn't had a bad season at all. In fact, he was just named to the Southern League postseason all-star team, but it has been a bit of a disappointment in my opinion. Szczur has never been a guy who was going to hit many home runs, but he's had fewer extra base hits this season than in the past. His ISO has dropped to .086 this season due to fewer doubles.
He also hasn't flashed the the great speed he had in the past either. Last season he played in 137 games between High A, AA and the Arizona Fall League. He stole 51 bases and was caught 15 times. This season, he's stole only 22 bases in 127 games. He's been caught 12 times.
A player with the kind of speed Szczur has flashed in his career will typically have more triples, but that has not been the case.
He's walked in 8.8% of his PA this season and struckout in 13%. Both of these rates are about what we expected, but he had shown a much better walk rate in High A last season. Overall he's hit .281/.351/.367 with a wOBA of .336. his wRC+ is 112 so he's been 12% better than the average Southern League hitter.
The slugging is quite low. It's lower than Darwin Barney's was in the minor leagues.
It's hard to say it's a bad season as I said, but it was far from a good season. It was also a season in which I think we can safely put his name aside as a possible MLB starter at some point. Perhaps he'll come up at some point and surprise in a minor role, but this season, in my opinion, eliminated any chance he had to be a regular player.
Szczur has been known as a guy with excellent range in the outfield, but a below average arm. Baseball America, at one point, was kind of high on Szczur's potential, but that's cooled off a bit over the last year or so. Jim Callis still mentioned at some point this year that he seems like a second division CF to him. The speed has been his best asset, but lacks other necessary tools to be a starter.
His future is likely as a back-up outfielder who can play above average defense and give you a jolt of speed. He needs to clean up his baserunning, but he can still provide value at the MLB level.
He'll probably be sent to AAA Iowa after spring training and could get a call-up soon if he's playing well. He may have trouble getting on base at the big league level without a very high BABIP.