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Scouting Cubs and Sox prospects

3/18/2011

I didn't get a lot of prospect-watching in during Wednesday's White Sox-Giants game in Glendale.

&#8226; The White Sox did give Brent Morel four at bats as he and what's left of Mark Teahen's career battle for Chicago's third base job. Morel is something of a tweener, not likely to produce enough offense to play third everyday for a contender due to lack of OBP skills and power, but I think he could outhit Teahen over a full season, which is the only question now for the White Sox. Morel has some loop length in his swing but does have some hand strength and stays upright well through the swing, but he doesn't rotate his hips, meaning he generates no torque and the ball doesn't go as far when he makes contact.

&#8226; Gordon Beckham seemed to be struggling to keep his front side closed, although his spring stats don't indicate that he's having a larger problem with contact. I'm hoping that was just a bad day for him, as he was on a tremendous tear when he got hurt last year and I'd like to see him pick up where he left off.

&#8226; On Thursday, I got a very brief look at Cubs bonus baby Matt Szczur, who signed a $1.5 million contract in January that obligated him to give up football. In our sport, Szczur can run and shows a very flat, slappy swing with some bat speed, but it's hard to imagine any kind of power given his swing path and where he meets the ball. He had one non-routine play in center while I was watching his game and he spun himself around twice while the ball fell behind him for a triple, although the sun was in front of him as he looked for the ball. My main question, though, is whether he had a football option. He's listed at what I'm guessing is a generous 6-foot-1 and overall is a lot smaller than the typical NFL player at any position where he might play in the NFL. That said, many football players will drop a little weight once they leave the sport.

&#8226; Hayden Simpson also threw on the minor league side for the Cubs but struggled to reach 90 MPH. He did show a slider with good shape, and given his bout with mono in 2010 and the weight he lost along the way he gets a lot more slack than most pitchers would at this point in the spring. I'll try to see him again when he's had a chance to build up some arm strength.