The third session on Saturday’s agenda was ‘From Draft Day to the Big Leagues’ and it featured four prospects from the system that were in town during the week for the Cubs’ rookie program. Matt Szczur was joined by three pitchers that have a chance to make it to the big leagues in the near future … Dallas Beeler, Rob Whitenack and Tony Zych.
The prospects discussed a variety of topics from being drafted to their time in the minors and what it would be like playing for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
From Draft Day to the Big Leagues
It was very interesting to watch the four very different personalities on Saturday. Dallas Beeler is extremely outgoing and appears to live in the moment. Rob Whitenack is focused on getting back to where he was before Tommy John surgery in 2011 delayed his career. Matt Szczur is very polished and concise with his answers while Tony Zych was the most reserved of the four.
Dallas Beeler was very upfront at the beginning of the session. Beeler admitted, “I’m good at throwing a baseball, that’s just about it. I was not good at school and I am just amazed to be here.” Tony Zych is from Monee and he discussed growing up in the area and that he has a lot of friends and family that are Cubs fans … and there are also a few White Sox fans in the family and they do not receive Cubs’ gear for presents.
Matt Szczur explained that it has been very humbling this weekend being recognized by fans. Szczur said he has been stopped for autographs and that Cubs’ fans know who they are and not just some minor league ballplayer.
The four players were asked about what they thought about the possibility of playing at Wrigley in the near future. Dallas Beeler said it blew his mind being at Wrigley everyday over the last week seeing the empty stands and empty bleachers on the rooftops and imagining what he would be like pitching there with the stands packed and everyone watching him. Dallas Beeler figured out in college that he needed to learn how to be a pitcher and not a thrower.
Rob Whitenack said he was lucky enough to pitch at Wrigley when he was with the Chiefs and he is looking forward to pitching there every five days in a Cubs’ uniform.
Injury concern was the biggest reason that led Matt Szczur to choose baseball over football. He admitted he is still “raw” in baseball and football instilled in him how to work hard. Szczur still uses his football mentality while on the baseball field … very aggressive.
The Cubs now use a lot of video and spreadsheets in the minor league system and according to Beeler being with the Cubs is much different now than it was a couple of years ago. The new regime has done a good job preparing the players in the system to go out and play everyday.
A couple of the players said they have read ‘The Cubs Way’ while one admitted he has not read all of it. Szczur explained that the biggest thing is to go out and work hard every day. To play the game the right way and be a team player.
Dallas Beeler grew up idolizing Roy Halladay and said he based his own mechanics on Halladay’s. Rob Whitenack’s idol was Derek Jeter. Matt Szczur grew up a Phillies’ fan and his idol was Shane Victorino while Tony Zych also idolized Derek Jeter but on the pitching side it was Mariano Rivera.
Rob Whitenack talked about his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2011. He said it was a tough break but he did not know what to expect because he had not had surgery before. After the procedure, Whitenack went home for 10 days then went to Arizona and started rehabbing. Whitenack rehabbed every day and described the rehab process as painful. He put his trust into the process and trainers.
Whitenack said he is very close to being back where he was before he blew out his elbow. He has already thrown two bullpens this winter. He explained that when he returned last year that his velocity was back but he struggled with his command. The goal was for him to be back to form in 2013 and that last season was just about being back on a mound and pitching. The coaches stressed to him that he was healthy and pitching … that’s what was important and worry about the results later.
The four players seemed to really enjoy the Cubs rookie program they participated in. Matt Szczur learned from listening to Mark Prior talk to always appreciate the little things and to be grateful.
The Cubs have talent in the system and quite a bit of depth. The organization is missing high-end , impact talent but players like Dallas Beeler, Rob Whitenack, Matt Szczur and Tony Zych could help the big league team win ballgames in the near future … and isn’t that what it is all about?
Recaps from the Dale Sveum and the Coaching Staff and Wrigley Field Restoration sessions will be posted soon.
2013 Cubs Convention Recaps
- Day One of the 2013 Cubs Convention … Familiar Faces in a New Place
- Day Two of the 2013 Cubs Convention … The Ricketts Family Forum
- Day Two of the 2013 Cubs Convention … Meet the Cubs Baseball Management