Photo: Matt Szczur (Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)
On Saturday, it was disclosed that the St. Louis Cardinals have signed Matt Szczur to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training camp.
Outfielder Matt Szczur, former Cub, former Villanova two-sport star from South Jersey, has signed minor-league deal w St. Louis Cardinals. Includes big league invite. Was in camp with Phillies last year.
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 13, 2021
The 31-year-old outfielder spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Cubs and the Padres. However, he has not made an appearance at the MLB level since 2018.
In 2019, Szczur played in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization and slashed .322/.390/.577/.967 in Triple-A. Then, he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies in 2020 but failed to win an MLB job during the summer camp and at its conclusion, was given his release.
Despite his success in Triple-A in 2019, Szczur has not had good results at the MLB level, as evidenced by his career slash line of just .231/.312/.355/.667. However, Szczur has experience playing all three outfield positions. He will provide the Cardinals with a veteran organizational presence behind their group of young outfielders, six of whom are already on the 40-man roster vying to open the season with St. Louis.
The right-handed hitter does not have much power in his bat, but he does have a solid career 9.7% walk rate to go with a 19.9% strikeout rate. Additionally, nearly 60% of the pitches he has hit into play have gone up the middle or to the opposite field.
Due to this, it appears that Szczur may be able to add some value to the Cardinals by taking walks, avoiding strikeouts, and slapping singles to the opposite field.
It does not appear that Szczur will be much more than a depth piece, since the Cardinals were willing to trade Dexter Fowler, in part, to open playing time for the young outfielders on the team. Because of this, if Szczur gets playing time, it will likely be due to injuries or under-performance from the team’s young outfielders. More than likely, he will end up at Triple-A Memphis.
While Szczur may only be a depth acquisition, he does have an interesting history. The 31-year-old was a two-sport athlete at Villanova University where he also played football. In his football career, Szczur played a variety of positions, including quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, out of the wildcat, while also contributing on special teams. His versatile skill set helped Villanova win the FCS National Championship in 2009.
Additionally, Szczur is an artist who makes and sells his own art. Examples of his work can be found at his website here.
To track the status of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster as well as all players in the system by position and level, check out the Roster Matrix, always free and updated here at The Cardinal Nation. Also included is every player transaction across the full organization all year long.
Now available, The Cardinal Nation 2021 Prospect Guide is back for a fourth year. It includes over 250 pages of in-depth commentary about the very best St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguers, including dozens of color photos.
Follow Blake Newberry on Twitter @bt_newberry.
© 2021 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.