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Cubs Calling Up Matt Szczur Sunday

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The former Villanova football star will get a major-league chance.

Matt Szczur bats during spring training 2014
Matt Szczur bats during spring training 2014
Getty Images

There were reports midafternoon Saturday about the possible recall of Matt Szczur, and now it's been confirmed:

And:

It had been announced that Dan Straily, who is starting tonight's game against the Mets, would be a Cub for just this one start (for now), and then return to Triple-A Iowa. So, after Junior Lake was optioned to Iowa to make room for Straily, speculation began about who would be called up when Straily returned. Clearly, it had to be a position player, and now we know it'll be Szczur, though no official press release has come from the Cubs as of this writing.

The Cubs drafted Szczur in the fifth round in 2010 and paid him $1.5 million to give up football at Villanova and concentrate solely on baseball. He's made a slow but steady rise through the Cubs' system, and though his hitting has been mediocre -- .261/.315/.312 in 414 at-bats at Iowa this year -- he's considered an outstanding defensive outfielder with good speed (30 stolen bases this year, seven caught stealing).

I imagine Szczur will be given some starts; there's no point in calling him up to sit on the bench. Maybe he'll surprise everyone by hitting a little bit at the big-league level. With good defense, baserunning speed and some on-base ability (.345 lifetime minor-league OBP), he could have a decent career as a fifth outfielder, perhaps a righthanded-hitting version of Sam Fuld.

Congratulations and good luck to Matt Szczur, who could make his big-league debut Sunday against the Mets.