The Cubs will take Kyle Schwarber off the fast track, hoping this year’s No. 4 overall pick could still develop into their catcher of the future.
The Cubs are sending seven prospects to the Arizona Fall League, but Schwarber won’t be part of a group that includes big names like Addison Russell and C.J. Edwards.
“His bat is ready,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.
No doubt. Schwarber hit .344 with 18 homers, 53 RBI and a 1.061 OPS in 72 games split between three minor-league affiliates, living up to the monster reputation he developed as a catcher/outfielder at Indiana University.
The Florida State League playoffs begin Tuesday, and Schwarber can help advanced Class-A Daytona win a title, the same way Kris Bryant did last season. Bryant – last year’s No. 2 overall pick out of the University of San Diego – made three minor-league stops before becoming the Arizona Fall League’s MVP.
That momentum carried into 2014, with the 22-year-old third baseman putting up 43 homers and 110 RBI combined at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
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“It was kind of a two-fold decision,” Hoyer said. “Bryant went to the Fall League, but Bryant also took a full month off in the middle of the summer because he didn’t sign right away. Kyle signed right away and was playing right away. He’s been going at it hard since January. We just feel like it’s a lot, asking him to take two weeks off and then go play in another league.”
Schwarber, 21, will still travel to Arizona and work out at the team’s Mesa complex, getting an education in what it takes to become a big-league catcher.
“The other thing is we really wanted to spend instructional league working on his catching with (field/catching coordinator) Tim Cossins and the other instructors,” Hoyer said. “That gives him a chance to work on his catching without the pressure of games. (Schwarber) can work hard with (Cossins) and it probably will be exhausting, but there’s no stats associated with it.”
The Cubs believe Schwarber’s big personality will someday give their clubhouse an edge. Whether or not the experiment ultimately works, his leadership skills and desire to stick as a catcher are two X-factors in their favor now.