Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Hail Szczur

Matt Szczur, Photo by Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com

Matthew Szczur, the Cubs’ speedy center field prospect and one of the preseason Top 100 prospects in baseball (to some), has been promoted to Double A. He takes the roster slot left open when Jae-Hoon Ha was placed on the disabled list.

While Ha’s collision with the outfield wall was no doubt a factor in Szczur getting the promotion now, he has definitely earned it. He finished his stint with Daytona sporting a .295/.394/.407 line. He stole 38 bases in 50 tries, hit two home runs and four triples, and compiled 47 walks against 50 strikeouts. If he can maintain a healthy OBP as he moves up the system, he could be the Cubs’ lead off hitter of the not too distant future. If he can’t, he still projects as a quality fourth outfielder.

There is no definite time table yet for Ha’s return and I do not think the Cubs will rush him. When he does come back, I do not expect Szczur to return to Daytona. I think Szczur is in Tennessee for the remainder of the season.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa won a surprising shutout 5-0.
Tennessee – The Smokies rallied late, but they fell to Jacksonville 6-4.
Daytona – The Daytona pitchers combined on a four hit shutout in this 2-0 Cub win.
Peoria – The Chiefs scored twice in the eighth to win 3-2.
Boise – Boise sailed to an easy 8-3 win.
Arizona – The youngest Cubs lost 3-1.

Performances of the Day

  • [Iowa] Surprise! Chris Volstad pitched a very good game. The struggling right hander tossed 8.0 innings, allowed just four hits and three walks, and struck out five in a dominant performance.
  • [Iowa] Dave Sappelt hit his second triple and stole his 13th base.
  • [Iowa] Adrian Cardenas started at second base and hit his 20th double. If the Cubs need him, he’ll be ready to go.
  • [Tennessee] Matt Szczur opened his Double A career by striking twice in an 0 for 4 performance. It is perfectly normal for players to start slow when they are promoted to a new league; Szczur will be fine.
  • [Tennessee] With Szczur on the roster, Junior Lake was dropped to third in the batting order (for what it’s worth, I prefer him batting third). He responded with two more doubles.
  • [Tennessee] Greg Rohan homered in his second consecutive game, his third time in the last four games, and for the fourth time as a Smokey.
  • [Daytona] Good news Cub fans! Robert Whitenack pitched five innings, walked three, allowed two hits, and struck out four in what is definitely his best start since coming back from elbow surgery. His GO/AO was a fantastic 9-1. Whitenack remains a legitimate pitching prospect with No. 3 starter potential. It is good to see him starting to enjoy a little success again.
  • [Daytona] Eduardo Figueroa and A.J. Morris combined to finish off the shut out.
  • [Daytona] Rebel Ridling homered as part of a two hit night. He also had a stolen base.
  • [Daytona] Speaking of stolen bases, Timothy Saunders stole the first two of his High-A career. John Andreoli picked up steal number 37.
  • [Peoria] Zach Cates struck out seven over 5.1 innings. He only allowed two runs on three hits, but he still wound up with a no decision. Sheldon McDonald and Austin Reed combined to pitch three scoreless innings in relief.
  • [Peoria] Javier Baez hit the go ahead two run homer in the eighth inning. It was his 11th blast of the season.
  • [Boise] Gioskar Amaya hit his eighth triple as part of his two hit game.
  • [Boise] Daniel Vogelbach doubled and walked as part of his own two hit performance. Marco Hernandez, Trey Martin, and Xavier Batista also had two hits on the night.
  • [Boise] In the first inning, catcher/outfielder Wilson Contreras hit his second home run of the season.
  • [Arizona] Lendy Castillo continues to be stretched. He tossed four innings in this game, striking out six and allowing just one run on two hits.
  • [Arizona] Jorge Soler finished 2 for 4 with his second stolen base. Albert Almora hit his second double.

Other Minor League Notes

  • Once again, the key number in Volstad’s start was his Ground Out / Air Out ratio: 15-2. When Volstad is on, he gets ground ball outs. If he can build on this success, he just might be an option for the back of the 2013 rotation.
  • Ty’relle Harris is back in Tennessee, but this time he is a starting pitcher. Harris, a promising reliever who was recently with Iowa, struggled some in his 2.2 innings as the starting pitcher in this game. I suppose it doesn’t hurt anything to see if he can be stretched into a starter, but I continue to think his long term future is in the middle of the bullpen.

Farm System Standings

AAAIowa Cubs : 42 – 65.
Pacific Coast League American Northern Division – Fourth Place: 21.0 Games Behind.

AATennessee Smokies : 15-19
Southern League North Division – Fourth Place : 5.0 Games Behind

High ADaytona Cubs : 15-20
Florida State League North Division – Sixth Place : 6.0 Games Behind

Low APeoria Chiefs : 14-19
Midwest League Eastern Division – Fourth Place : 6.0 Game Behind

Short-Season ABoise Hawks : 2-2
Northwest League East Division – Second Place : 0.5 Games Behind

Rookie LeagueAZL Cubs : 20 – 9
Arizona Rookie League East – First Place (tie) : 0.0 Games Ahead

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation. He can be found on Twitter as ltblaize.

34 responses to “Cubs’ Minor League Daily: Hail Szczur”

  1. jr5

    I feel like that headlines been kicking around someone’s head for awhile now. Congratulations on finally being able to use it.

  2. JNasty

    What are the plans for Lendy Castillo? There must be a purpose for stretching him out. Could he be a candidate for the big league rotation if a trade happens? If he was going to return to the pen after his rehab assignment I don’t see why you would have him pitching every five days.

    1. Brett

      Maybe. But, bigger picture, the Cubs plan to get him back up to the big club in August at some point so they can accumulate enough days of him on the active roster (non-DL) to keep him in 2013. From there, maybe he begins starting at AA and the Cubs see what he can be.

  3. Jacob

    I see a lot of people projecting our future OF as Jackson/Alomra/Soler/or Baez… Personally, I think Szczur will be a future OF’er in Chicago.. I mean, I don’t know… I just have a feeling. There is absolutely no reason for me to feel that way, other than I think Jackson is regressing, and there is no way that everybody reaches their potential (although I hope they do). If I’m wrong, I suppose that’s a good thing because that means the names mentioned above reached their potential..

    1. Jacob

      Oh, and I don’t see Baez going to the OF.. I see him a 3B, but thats a totally different topic.

      1. willis

        Baez is the 3B of the future. Probably by mid 2014. Worst case opening day 2015.

        I still think B-Jax will be fine. He’ll be the first up. Then Szczur, By September of 2013 both of those guys will be starting every day out there. And if Soriano is still with us, just staple him into the grass because those two can cover the rest of the outfield. He’ll just need to stay out of the way.

        Eventually it’ll be Almora, Soler and either Jackson or Szczur. And that’s a good problem to have.

    2. ferrets_bueller

      Depending on how far into the future we’re looking, the best one in four years or so would be Soler/Almora/Szczur. BUt obviously, Jackson will be there first.

      Ideally, the core in 4 years:
      OF:
      Soler
      Almora
      Szczur

      3B:
      Baez

      SS:
      Castro

      1B:
      Jackson

      1. Tim

        jackson will not play first base… forget about rizzo? jackson will be the tony campana of the team right now

        1. ferrets_bueller

          dear lord, why did I type Jackson instead of Rizzo?
          I’m an idiot, lmao.

          Definitely meant Rizzo.

        2. Turn Two

          Funny thing about lists like this is that a few years ago Jackson is the lock and someone else is, as you call it, “the Tony Campana” of the team. Couple of these guys will pan out, couple will be traded, couple will be busts.

      2. Cub Style

        I highly doubt Szczur is a core player and there is no way in hell that Jackson supplants Rizzo.

        Almora has great odds for him with the high floor. Soler, so far, looks like he’s very quick to adjust to playing ball again. Baez is a monster. Just a monster.

        1. Scotti

          Of all of the Cub prospects, Szczur is the closest thing to a lock to be a core player. There simply is no hole in his game and he’s playing at a much higher level than the younger guys. Szczur does what you want out of a leadoff hitter. He works deep into the count, gets on base, has plus speed (even though his speed is overrated), steals bases, takes walks, he puts the barrell of the bat on the ball and he strikes it well (he is NOT Juan Pierre or some slap hitter–he takes a full cut). He’s also done well defensively. His floor is very high and he was a good ceiling, too.

      3. Wester

        I know it’s already been said twice, nut I’m sorry…i have to say it again. Jackson at first? Dude, I really hope that was a typo

        1. ferrets_bueller

          Definitely a typo.

          1. Wester

            I figured it was

    3. JoeyCollins

      I have a similar gut feeling a sczur. I think its because he was a two sport guy and now that his focus is solely on baseball I think he can progressed a ton. Also his worm ethic and character are through the roof so hes the kinda guy you like to root for.

  4. djriz

    Luke, you missed the biggest news of the day. Baez drew a walk. His first in July!

  5. Jonski

    Happy for Szczur seems like a high character guy.I always admired what he did with the teenage cancer patient before drafted.

  6. mark

    For a few weeks Lake appeared to be in a bit of a singles rut, while also slumping. He seems to have come out of that over the last week and the drop to 3rd behind two high OBP guys like Watkins and Szczur may encourage Lake’s return to driving the ball. That 1-2 pair of Watkins and Szczur is “intriguing.”

  7. T Wags

    I’m excited about the possibility of a 2015 Cubs infield consisting of Baez(3rd), Castro(ss), Amaya(2nd) and RizzOMG(1st). That’s some serious talent that could project as a very good 1-4 in a batting order. Contingency plans at 2nd and 3rd base include Watkins, Torreyes, Vitters, and Candelario. That’s is not to mention guys like Alcantara and Vogelbach who could eventually replace Castro and RizzOMG if they flame out for some reason. We have the makings of a very good home-grown infield and that excites me.

    Luke, where do you think Amaya will check in at on your post-season top 20 list(as the farm currently stands before the trade deadline)? I love this kids potential.

  8. Corey

    The Baez home run was just a laser beam out to left field. It either hit the walkway behind the palm trees/LF lawn, or went out of the park. Couldn’t tell for sure from my vantage point, but it was impressive.

    When I saw that Cates was starting, I was a little disappointed given his numbers, but I thought he was impressive. The scoreboard didn’t show how fast he was pitching, but it seemed as though his velocity was good. He sure takes his time between pitches with runners on base. Also seemed to be slow to the plate out of the stretch, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s true or not. If he was, then Cabezas’ arm was impressive. He could probably be a solid back-up catcher.

    Outside of the pitching, Baez, and Cabezas, I didn’t really think anyone else was major league caliber. Geiger pulled a hard liner foul after Baez’s HR, but didn’t look too good otherwise.

  9. Ben Peoria Cubs Fan

    I too was at the Chiefs game and Baez’s homer was a screamer to the fence bordering the ballpark. A blast.

    Both of Cates runs scored against were a result of the combination of his wildness and his slow delivery. In the first he hit the lead off batter who scored without a base hit via a steal and two well placed outs. He later allowed a run after a walk with no outs and another stolen base. He has a funky double kick out of the stretch. Man is he slow with men on base. 3 hour game with few hits and a 3-2 score. Stuff is good.

    I have seen Sheldon McDonald pitch several times and he looks good even if his pedigree doesn’t. 23 years old but from a obscure Canadian college. Well obscure to a guy from Peoria. He doesn’t really look like a pitcher except he is left handed. Under 6 foot tall and thick through the middle.

  10. Ryan G

    I’m pretty sure Harris was just spot starting as they don’t have five legitimate starting options in Tennessee right now. He’s still a bullpen arm.

  11. willis

    Seeing Whitenack pitch well for 5 innings is very encouraging. I think by STof next year we all need to be paying attention to him as he’ll be fully recovered from the TJ. Kid has a decent ceiling. Should be fun (if injury free) to watch him progress.

  12. Josh

    I think they should move Junior Lake and Baez to 2B and 3B respectively. If they do it not they will have time to adapt and be better with the glove once if/once they make the big leagues. We know they won’t spend any time at SS. Lake has a chance at 2B, and Baez at 3B. Think they should make the change sooner rather than later

    1. Scotti

      Josh, Baez sees 2-3 more balls hit his way at SS. There’s no doubt that he is better suited staying at SS and moving to 3B down the road (the year before they call him up).

      Lake is different in that he’d see the same amount of balls hit his way (if not more) at 2B. However, two advantages in keeping him at SS as long as possible are 1) something might “click” and his value as a SS will be greater and 2) the CHALLENGE of playing short could be more instructive for his development now. Still, I would like to see him moved to 2B (the DP pivit can be tricky) but I don’t think the club sees him as a long-term fit for either position.

  13. Josh

    When do y’all think soler and almora will get called up?

    1. quintz

      They will move Soler as fast as they can since he is already taking up a 40 man roster spot, is 20 years old and has already had some supposedly decent level competition under his belt, so let’s say sometime in 2014. Almora is a young 18. My guess on him would be a call up at end of 2015, that may be a little fast though.

    2. Drew7

      If they can play SS, they can play 2B or 3B. Barney’s a good example of that.

      1. Scotti

        A few SS have difficulty with the DP pivot at the bag as a 2B. It’s a different mindset. The SS can glide through the bag and avoid the runner but the 2B has to just take the punishment like a catcher but without pads.

        FWIW, the club has seen plenty of Lake at 2B so they could be very confident that he can handle the pivot.

  14. Babe Ruth

    I’ll be at the smokies game in Jacksonville tonight; is anyone else gonna be there?

  15. fromthemitten

    Lookin’ good Soler… hopefully his patience will catch up with his bat

  16. Babe Ruth

    Nick struck just took a line drive off his pitching hand, but he’s able to stay in and pitch. Mcnutt is warming up.