Matt Szczur

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Matthew Szczur

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Matt Szczur made his big league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 2014. His last name is pronounced SEE-zer.

He was All-State in high school, setting a South Jersey record for average (.681). He was also all-league in football and participated in track and field. He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school in the 38th round of the 2007 amateur draft, a few picks after Adron Chambers, but did not sign a contract. As a college freshman, he had 15 catches and 957 all-purpose yards, averaging 26.1 yards per kick return. An injury in football forced him to redshirt as a freshman for baseball. He had 32 receptions and 1,149 all-purpose yards in football in 2008. As a redshirt freshman in baseball, he hit .346/.438/.436 with 18 steals in 25 tries. He tied for 5th in the Big East Conference in swipes. That fall, Szczur was an All-American in football after catching 51 passes, running for 813 yards, scoring 15 touchdowns and averaging 27.2 yards per kick return. His 159 rushing yards helped him win MVP of the national championship game.

In the summer of 2010, he batted .443/.4897/.667 to lead the Big East in average. He only struck out 9 times in 191 plate appearances while also fielding .990 in right field. He had 40 runs in 39 games and led the Big East with 7 triples. He joined Jeremy Baltz and Pat Biserta on the All-Conference outfield.

He did sign after being taken by Chicago in the 5th round of the 2010 amateur draft, a couple slots ahead of Stephen Pryor. He was signed by scout Tim Adkins. He played for the AZL Cubs (1 for 2, BB, HBP), Boise Hawks (.397/.439/.521, 17 R in 18 G) and Peoria Chiefs (5 for 26, 2B, 3B, 3 BB) in 2010, hitting a combined .347/.414/.465 with 24 runs scored in 25 games. Baseball America rated him as the fastest baserunner and best athlete in the Cubs chain and as their #7 prospect. His football production was down due to injuries and he was not picked in the NFL draft. He was 5th in Villanova history in average (.392) and tied for 5th in touchdowns (30).

In 2011, he hit .293/.335/.423 with 75 runs, 10 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 29 tries for Peoria (.314/.366/.431 in 66 G, 55 R, 17 SB) and the league champion Daytona Cubs (.260/.283/.410 in 43 G). In the 2011 Futures Game, he replaced Gary Brown in center field in the 6th inning with a 3-0 lead for the USA. He grounded out against Arodys Vizcaino in his lone plate appearance and the US won, 6-4. For the year, he was 7th in the Cubs chain in steals and 8th in runs (between Kevin Encarnacion and Ryan Flaherty). Baseball America rated him again as the fastest baserunner and best athlete in the Chicago farm chain as well as the #9 prospect in the Midwest League (between James Paxton and Keyvius Sampson), #8 in the Florida State League (between Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart) and as having the best outfield arm in the MWL.

Prior to the 2012 season, he was named the 64th-best prospect in baseball and the 3rd-best minor leaguer in the Cubs chain by Baseball America (after Brett Jackson and Javier Baez) - that year, he hit .267/.360/.390 with 92 runs, 26 doubles and 42 stolen bases in 56 tries between Daytona and the Tennessee Smokies. He fielded .992. He was 4th in the FSL in swipes, between Alonzo Harris and Hernan Perez. Among Cubs minor leaguers, he was second in runs, one behind Logan Watkins and second to John Andreoli in stolen bases. Baseball America downgraded him to the Cubs' #14 prospect but still rated him as their best athlete and as the fastest baserunner in the FSL.

With Tennessee for 2013, he hit .281/.350/.367 with 22 stolen bases in 34 tries with 78 runs in 128 games. He was 7th in the Southern League (between Rubi Silva and Ender Inciarte), led in hits (144, 10 ahead of Arismendy Alcantara), third in runs behind Marcus Semien and Joc Pederson) and tied Trayce Thompson for third in times caught stealing. Among Cubs farmhands, he was second to Baez in both hits and runs.

Szczur was a member of the Cubs' first World Series-winning team in 108 years in 2016, when he played 107 games with the team, mainly as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement in the outfield. He hit .259 with 9 doubles and 5 homers, scoring 30 runs and driving in 24 in 185 at-bats. He was left off the postseason roster, in large part because the Cubs wanted to make room for Kyle Schwarber, who was able to come back after missing almost the entire season with an injury. In 2017, he was hitting .211 in 15 games when on May 8th, he was traded to the San Diego Padres in return for minor league P Justin Hancock. Once again, he had been the victim of a roster crunch, being designated for assignment because the Cubs needed an extra bullpen arm after playing an 18-inning game against the New York Yankees the day before. On July 21st, playing for the Padres against the San Francisco Giants, he had a career day in spite of not starting the game and only entering in the 4th inning as part of a double switch. He had four hits, including a double and a triple, and his final one in the 11th off George Kontos drove in the winning run in a 12-9 win. He had a chance in the 9th inning to become the first player to hit for the cycle without having started the game, but he was unable to get the missing homer, and when he came to bat again two innings later with the game on the line, "I was just trying to make something happen" he explained. He hit .227 in 104 games for the Padres, giving him a combined average of .226 with 3 homers and 18 RBIs in 119 games between te two teams. He was back with the Padres in 2018 but saw his playing time go down as the Padres wanted to give some younger outfielders a look. He played 57 games and hit .187 with 1 homer and 6 RBIs. He also played 10 games with the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas.

Moving to the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization in 2019, he missed the beginning of the season with an injury before being activated in early May. On May 20th, he did hit for the cycle, albeit in a minor league game as a member of the Reno Aces of the Pacific Coast League, in a 25-8 win over the Tacoma Rainiers. In that game, teammate Yasmani Tomas hit four home runs, making it only the second time in baseball history that two teammates had achieved the rare feats in the same game (Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri had done so for the New York Yankees on June 3, 1932).

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • Won one World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 2016 (he did not play in the World Series)


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