Outfield prospect Szczur ready if the Cubs come calling

Outfield prospect Szczur ready if the Cubs come calling
July 29, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

While guys like Javier Baez and Albert Almora get all the attention among Cubs prospects, Matt Szczur is flying under the radar.

Szczur, a 24-year-old outfielder, has been labeled as a toolsy -- but raw -- player since the Cubs selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

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He was a stud football player in college at Villanova, winning a national championship and racking up 30 all-purpose touchdowns in 47 career games, drawing some interest in the NFL Draft.

In a one-on-one interview with Mick Gillispie of Smokies Radio Network, Szczur recounts why he chose a career in baseball over football.

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Szczur's athleticism is off the charts but he had not played as much baseball as other prospects early in his career, so was a bit behind the learning curve.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound speedster is catching up, though. After struggling in a promotion to Double-A Tennessee last year, Szczur has adapted to the level and carries a .280/.349/.368 slash line with 20 steals, 55 runs and 36 walks compared to 61 strikeouts.

[RELATED: Cubs prospect Javier Baez collects another two-homer game]

"It's been a little rocky here and there," Szczur told Mick Gillispie of Smokies Radio Network of his year at the plate. "I just try and take a steady approach to the plate. That gets me out of slumps if I get into them.

"For the most part, I have a steady routine, get to the field every day and try to get after it...Sometimes when you get too comfortable is when things start to slow down for you. You've got to be comfortable being uncomfortable."

He was one of six Smokies named to the Southern League All-Star team, joining catcher Rafael Lopez, infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva and pitchers Alberto Cabrera and Kyle Hendricks on the roster.

Szczur has also spent a lot of time working on his defense this season, working at all three outfield spots, but spending most of his time in center field.

Despite the constant state of flux of the Cubs' big-league outfield with injuries as well as the Alfonso Soriano trade and a possible Nate Schierholtz deal coming up, Szczur is not getting ahead of himself and thinking about a call-up, even though he is already on the 40-man roster.

[RELATED: Ignoring trade deadline chatter, Schierholtz wants to help Cubs get to the next level]

"I just want to get here [to the ballpark] and work hard every day and try to put myself in the best opportunity to get up there," he said.

Still, Szczur said he will be ready if the call comes, but knows he has plenty to work on in the meantime.

Check out his full interview with Gillispie: