July 1, 2010
Two-sport star Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) has signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs and will report to one of the team's minor league affiliates within the next few days, it was announced today. Szczur's contract will allow him to return to Villanova this fall and play his senior year of football for the Wildcats.
Szczur begins his professional baseball career just a few weeks after the Cubs made him their fifth-round selection in last month's amateur draft. He will be able to play baseball this summer before returning to campus for the start of fall semester classes as well as preseason football workouts.
"I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play professional baseball. It has always been a dream of mine to play at this level," stated Szczur. "I could not have asked for a better situation. I am thrilled to begin my professional baseball career in the Chicago Cubs organization and also be able to return to Villanova for my senior year and help my football teammates defend our national championship."
As a baseball player for the Wildcats, Szczur batted .443 (77-174) and became Villanova's first .400 hitter in 13 years. He earned first team All-BIG EAST recognition after leading the Wildcats in eight offensive categories, and has since garnered All-East and All-ECAC honors. Szczur had 13 doubles, seven triples and four home runs for Villanova this season while drawing 14 walks and striking out only nine times in 191 plate appearances. He posted a .487 on-base percentage and a .667 slugging percentage.
In his junior campaign on the gridiron last fall, Szczur led the Wildcats to their first-ever national championship. He was a consensus first team All-American as well as the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year. In the national championship game against Montana, he rushed for a career-high 159 yards and gained 270 all-purpose yards en route to being named the game's Most Outstanding Player.
The numbers put up by Szczur during Villanova's baseball season are even more impressive considering that he missed 10 consecutive games in April and May because of donating peripheral blood cells to a young patient with leukemia. Szczur is a member of the national Be The Match registry and was a match for a patient who only had a 1-in-80,000 chance of finding a donor.
With the addition of Szczur to the professional ranks, Villanova will have six former baseball players active in professional ball. Fellow 2010 draft picks Justin Bencsko (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Brian Streilein (Houston Astros) are also playing in the minor leagues, as are former Wildcats Kevin Mulvey (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Jordan Ellis (Philadelphia Phillies). In addition, former Villanova first baseman Jeremy Hunt is playing for the Quebec Les Capitales in the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.