Matt Szczur passes up football to stay with Cubs

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According to Jim Callis of Baseball America, Cubs prospect outfielder Matt Szczur has accepted a $1.5 million deal to stick with baseball rather than pursue a career in the NFL. The story was first reported by Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net.

Szczur originally signed for $100,000 after being drafted in the fifth round last June. The 21-year-old batted .347/.414/.465 over his first 116 professional plate appearances before returning to Villanova to play football for his senior year. As Callis notes, his initial contract would have secured him $500,000 if he made a written commitment before February 10, so the Cubs tripled their original offer in order to keep him.

Callis writes that Szczur “has a knack for barreling balls, which combined with his top-of-the-scale speed will allow him to hit for high averages.” His coach at Villanova Andy Talley called Szczur his fastest player ever, even ahead of former Eagles and current 49ers running back Brian Westbrook, so it’s easy to see why he was drawing some interest among NFL teams.

Baseball America recently ranked Szczur as the No. 7 prospect in the Cubs organization, but those rankings pre-dated the Matt Garza trade.

Giants place Dereck Rodriguez on DL due to injury sustained during altercation with Dodgers

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that Giants pitcher Dereck Rodriguez has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring. Rodriguez apparently suffered the injury during Tuesday’s altercation with the Dodgers which featured Yasiel Puig and Nick Hundley.

Rodriguez, 22, has been having an outstanding rookie season, posting a 2.25 ERA with a 65/19 K/BB ratio in 80 innings across 12 starts and two relief appearances.

Casey Kelly will start in Rodriguez’s place against the Reds on Friday.