First thing upon walking into HoHoKam Park I grab a copy of the day's lineup. No Javier Baez. Sigh...
On the bright side that meant more time to focus on Matt Szczur and Rubi Silva. Kevin Rhoderick also made an appearance. Here are some thoughts on those players..
I've seen and heard a wide range of opinion on Szczur. It ranges from those who think he can be a starter and a leadoff man, to Sr. VP Jason McLeod's opinion that he can be another Reed Johnson, to Keith Law telling me "he'll get eaten up" at the MLB level.
I'm going to have to side with McLeod on this one. Szczur is a grinder, though he's much faster than Reed. He plays hard, works counts, and puts the ball in play. His swing is more conducive to making contact than power. His bat stays in the zone a long time so I think it's possible he'll hit for average while also drawing some walks, but he lacks the explosive hands needed for power.
Unlike Johnson, he's an asset on the bases. He swiped 2 more bases yesterday to go with his two
solid singles. On defense, I have yet to see him tested, so I can't give a first hand account at this point.
"Make him throw a good one"
That was the encouragement shouted in Spanish from the bench. Silva didn't heed the advice. He swung at a pitch at his ankles to strikeout, something he did three times yesterday.
Silva is a slender, wiry ballplayer with good athleticism but poor discipline at the plate. He does make solid contact when he connects, however.
His athleticism shows best in the field, where Silva gets good jumps and uses his speed to run to a spot and make effortless catches.
Though he stole two bases, he doesn't get the kind of jumps you like to see, he relies more on his raw speed. I'm not sure he'll be able to do that against MLB catchers.
Rhoderick doesn't have great size for a pitcher and there's some effort in his delivery. Velocity sits in the low 90s, though Law told me he used to hit 96. His best offering is his slider, which has a big, sharp two plane break. Hitters yesterday couldn't touch it, though Rhoderick did give up a HR on his first pitch, a straight fastball on the inner half of the plate.
Rhoderick's biggest weakness is his ability to throw strikes consistently. Yesterday, however, he commanded his pitches well after the gopher ball. When that happens, he can be effective. That can be a pretty big "if" as we've seen with young Cubs relievers this season. Other than command/cintrol, the biggest concern I have is that, with his diminished fastball, he may rely too much on his
slider, and as we've seen with the 2011 Carlos armol, MLB hitters can make life tough if you
n't throw strikes and rely too much on one pitch,
no matter how good that pitch is. Yesterday,
though, Rhoderick did a nice job of mixing things
All 3 players look to have some legit big league ability but because none are complete ballplayers, I envision then as role players at the MLB level right now. That's not to say Szczur can't be a starter but I just don't see a star.
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