According to a report from Baseball America, Matt Szczur “has committed to the Cubs and given up a possible NFL career.” Szczur gave the Cubs a verbal agreement and his new contract “is contingent on him passing a physical.”
Szczur originally signed for $100,000 on July 2. His contract at the time called for a $500,000 bonus if he did not attend the NFL combine and provided a written commitment to the Cubs by February 10. According to Jim Callis, the Cubs will pay Szczur $1.5 million to play baseball. Baseball America ranked Matt Szczur (pronounced Caesar) the seventh best prospect in the Cubs’ system prior to the Matt Garza trade … as well as the Best Athlete and Fastest Baserunner.
Jim Callis reported that Szczur’s “tools may translate better to baseball” than Jeff Samardzija and “his hitting skills could make him a special player.”
“Szczur has a knack for barreling balls, which combined with his top-of-the-scale speed will allow him to hit for high averages. He has hit some 400-foot bombs in batting practice, and once he gets more coaching and learns to finish through the ball better, he could have average or better power. He’s still refining his basestealing and baserunning, but his speed alone makes him a threat. Villanova football coach Andy Talley says Szczur is his fastest player ever, ahead of star NFL running back Brian Westbrook.
In his short time in pro ball, Szczur’s center-field play and his throwing made significant strides. He’ll have plus-plus range once he improves his jumps, and his arm strength rated as average after he loosened up and lost some of his football tightness. His competitiveness and work ethic are impeccable.”
Szczur was drafted by the Dodgers in the 38th round of the 2007 draft before deciding to play baseball and football at Villanova. Szczur hit .347/.414/.465/.879 with 10 doubles and a triple in 25 games (Rookie Ball, Boise Hawks and Peoria Chiefs) after signing his pro contract with the Cubs.
The Cubs have persuaded another potential NFL wide receiver to play baseball.