Could Schwarber’s power bat find its way to Chicago in 2015?
It’s becoming the new thing to do as a Chicago Cubs fan. Once the new prospect shows up in Chicago, you start talking about when the next one will arrive, and who it might be. After quickly moving through the ranks with his red-hot hitting, Kris Bryant found himself in Chicago after just one full season in the minors. Could Kyle Schwarber be on that same trajectory thanks to his ability at the plate?
In 42 games at Double-A Tennessee, Schwarber is hitting .307/.436/.584 with an OPS of 1.020. He has 10 home runs and 37 RBIs with 33 walks and 38 strikeouts. Possibly the best pure hitter in the 2014 Draft, he has shown great plate discipline to go along with his power. In 72 games across three levels of A-ball last season, he hit .344 with 18 home runs and 53 RBIs. His offensive ability has never been in question, and he seems to be getting better by the day. But where he plays is still up for debate.
Schwarber continues to work as a catcher after the Cubs decided he had shown enough progress last season. He spent some time in left-field while playing at Indiana University and early in his pro debut. But the consensus from scouts outside of the Cubs is that he isn’t a catcher. The organization is aware he has a ways to go, but they believe he has the makeup to improve and be effective behind the plate. A catcher with offensive capability could make him a superstar.
After Joe Maddon said that Schwarber could be the type of hitter they would add during the September roster expansions, Jason McLeod, Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development didn’t necessarily shoot that down.
"“I think that’s a conversation to take place,” McLeod said. “A lot depends on what’s happening with the Major League team. He’s having a great year right now. We felt he was an impact bat last year and to step in at Double-A and what he’s doing while he’s catching and going into his first full season as a catcher behind the plate, we couldn’t be more happy. He’s controlling the zone, he’s hitting for average, hitting for power. h/t Carrie Muskat, MLB.com"
If the Cubs are comfortable with Schwarber behind the plate come September, the chances could be much higher we could see him in Chicago. It’s a long season behind the plate, and Miguel Montero and David Ross aren’t spring chickens anymore. Having a late call-up that can spell them behind the plate would be a huge benefit. But the fact is he would be there for his bat more than anything else.
“A lot of us believe in his ability,” McLeod said. “If the need was there to come up here and help this team win later this year, I think he could do it.”