The circumstances, however, are vastly different this time around for Kyle Schwarber. For Bryant, the blatantly obvious theme of it all revolved around service time issues while Schwarber’s obstacle is more concretely baseball related.
There is simply not a spot in the lineup for him. As it stands, Miguel Montero is a potential National League All-Star at catcher and left fielder Chris Coghlan currently owns the MLB’s longest current consecutive games played streak at 130 dating back to last July 23.
The reason Schwarber was given a cameo in the MLB to make his debut was the Cubs’ need to have an impactful bat as the designated hitter in the lineup for six games in American League ballparks.
The Cubs immediately announced the plan revolving the 22-year-old catcher was to call him up from Double-A through Sunday’s contest against the Minnesota Twins, and subsequently send him down to Triple-A no matter what he did while with the team.
Schwarber made an immediate impact in his first MLB start on June 17 when he had four hits in five at-bats, including a triple for his first career hit. He also tacked on two RBI in what was a dominating shellacking of the Cleveland Indians, 17-0.
The former Indiana Hoosier followed up that performance by launching his first career home run in his second start and tallying another two hits. Schwarber had six hits in his first eight at-bats — just the fourth player in the last three decades to accomplish such a feat in baseball.
Going from a top draft pick in 2014 to one of the team’s top prospects immediately cranking the ball in your first Big League taste will obviously garner a grandiloquent amount of fan hysteria. Most fans want to see the best hitters in the lineup each and every day, that’s understandable.
However, when it comes to Schwarber, his defense severely lags behind the offense. Scouts still have a tough time believing he has the long-term makeup to be an MLB catcher while he still has much to learn in left field.
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Cubs manager Joe Maddon had some golden quotes regarding the prospect’s imminent “demotion” back to the minors after this weekend stating, “It would probably be easier for us to switch leagues than to get him to stay after Sunday.” He later confirmed, “Schwarbs’ is doing great, but he needs to complete his undergrad program in catching.”
With a great attitude and knack for hitting, Schwarber is sure to come back with the Cubs at some point later this season — whether it be as a catcher (which the Cubs have remained adamant about him staying there) or as a corner outfielder. While he does need to learn the MLB strike zone and keep his bat on his shoulder when a pitch is high and away, he had an encouragingly optimistic quote concerning MLB pitching, “It’s surprisingly not that much different. It is better stuff, but you just have to go up there with a good approach.”