Matt Szczur (pronounced like Caesar) has been an athlete for the majority of his life. During his varsity year in high school he lettered in football, baseball and track and field. The talented athlete’s skill was noticed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and he was drafted in the 38th round of the MLB amateur draft. Like many high school amateur baseball players drafted in the later rounds of the MLB draft, Szczur decided to head to college and attended Villanova University.
At Villanova, Szczur played both baseball and football. In football, Szczur did it all. He played in 47 games and accumulated 1,803 rushing yards, 1,485 reception yards, 1,690 kickoff and punt return yards and 206 passing yards. All together he had 5,234 all purpose yards, 30 touchdowns and threw for another five.
His Villanova baseball career was equally or more impressive. Szczur ranked fifth on Villanova’s all time list for batting average, hitting .392 over his two seasons. He had 142 hits over his 87 games as a wildcat with 37 of those hits going for extra bases.
Even though he might have made his mark at Villanova as an all around athlete, another event in Szczur’s life proved that he was more than just that. As a freshman at Villanova, Szczur joined the national Be A Match registry in order to see if he could possibly be a match to be a donor for bone marrow. In 2010, it was found that he was a one in 80,000 match for a very young girl who had leukemia. He sacrificed part of his sports career at Villanova as well as the pain of the procedure to give the young girl a chance.
Hearing a story like this just makes you want this guy on your team even more. He is not only an insanely good athlete, but an unselfish and caring human being as well.
The Chicago Cubs took notice of this during the 2010 MLB amateur draft and Szczur was selected in the 5th round, 160th overall.
How Matt Szczur Can Affect the Chicago Cubs Franchise
When is the last time that the Chicago Cubs has a really good center fielder? Since 1984, the best center fielder that the Cubs have put on the field has probably been Kenny Lofton. That would be great if he didn’t only play 56 games for the club. Other center fielders that have graced the hallowed ground that is Wrigley field over the past few decades include Brian McRae, Corey Patterson, Jerome Walton, Juan Pierre, Jim Edmonds, Reed Johnson and others that are not better than the players I just named.
Center field is one of the most important positions on a baseball field and you will not find many great teams without this position occupied by a team leader and top player.
In a few years, Matt Szczur might be able to make his mark at this very position. In his first full season in the minor leagues between A and A+ ball, Szczur had a .293 batting average, 35 extra base hits, 24 stolen bases and extremely good plate discipline striking out only 48 times in 447 at-bats.
His center field statistics were also solid. Over the two leagues in 2011, Szczur had a .988 fielding percentage with six assists from center field.
Other than Szczur there is Brett Jackson. While they are both solid prospects, Jackson has been hyped more. With Szczur’s breakout year, look for him to be right on Jackson’s heels as he advances through the minors. It should be fun to watch which one of these guys tries to change the trend of poor center fielders for this storied franchise.
Best Outcome - Szczur continues to improve as a baseball player through out his minor league career and moves quickly through the system. He gets his first taste of the majors in late 2013. In 2014 he joins Brett Jackson and Tyler Colvin to make a young trio of players with high upside protecting the ivy in the outfield. He is able to have a high batting average and on base percentage with solid contact skills and good plate discipline. His average year has him batting around .300 with 15 home runs and 25 stolen bases. Szczur is never a superstar, but is a team leader and the best center fielder for the Cubs in decades.
Worst Outcome - Everyone wants Szczur to succeed, but baseball is a tough game to master. He reaches the majors and still plays a role as a leader for the team but falls prey to the curse of being a Chicago Cubs outfielder and never reaches his true potential.