Cubs Fall League Notes 10/13: Szczur, Silva, Rhoderick

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..

Matt Szczur

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.

Rubi Silva

"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.

Kevin Rhoderick

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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  • Do you think Silva's lack of discipline at the plate is correctable? Do you think it could be a lack of proper coaching or maybe pitch recognition?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    A little of both. He looked at times like he was trying to take pitches, but it seemed he was doing it just to do it. I don't know if he has an actual plan other than to see it and hit it.

  • National fans just understood what Cubs fans have been going through over the years.

    Those Freak'in Cardinals do it again.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Felz should have an article up later on that and the playoffs later today.

  • Very interesting article. It's great to read this stuff. It's especially interesting to get your take on Szczur and hear the broad range of opinions on him. You'd think a guy with his build who played football would have a little more pop. It's impressive, though, the way he really retooled his approach in one season and became a totally different guy who at least can have some offensive role (as a table setter). If not for that, it would be hard to be excited about him with the way he seems to struggle with the bat a bit as he moves up (especially given his age). My gut feeling is that he's a guy who is determined to make the adjustments he needs to make, and he has enough in the way of tools (speed and contact ability) to work with that he can make a career for himself.

    How is his OF defense? Do you think he'll be a good defensive CFer?

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Personally I haven't seen him get challenged yet on defense, so hard to say but reports have been good.

    I hope he can make some adjustments to his swing. Like you said, no question that he'll work hard on it. Best swing yesterday was his first AB. Quicker stroke and ripped it into LF.

  • I've been interested in Szczur since the Cubs signed him. The FO are really high on him. A hard knox, high character, speedy outfielder with a football background. I thought to myself, "This guy's going to be a stud." Well, his 1st year in the minors...not so good. His 2nd year was okay. After this I think he started to face some criticism. I was surprised to see him at the Cubs Convention last year. After hearing him speak and the FO talking him up, I had a different thought. "Did the FO possibly miss on him?" He was told to walk more and work on his base running. This past year wow did he change. If we get a young version of Reed Johnson in 2014 I'd be really happy. We need a lead off hitter. I hope it's him.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    I'd be happy if he turned out to be a faster Reed with more walks. I agree that can be a possible starting CF and leadoff man.

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