It looks like the rumors that leaked out yesterday were true, the Cubs have selected Kyle Schwarber, a catcher from Indiana University who profiles as a first baseman. This marks the second year in a row that an unexpected name came out as the Cubs’ pick the day before the draft, and turned out to be true.
In case you missed it, OV took a look at his numbers earlier today. Statistically speaking, he profiles as well as Michael Conforto from Oregon State, who was largely considered to be the best college position player in the draft. Schwarber strikes out considerably less than Conforto, which the Cubs evidently realize is a problem in the system. The question mark for me was the park. By all accounts, Conforto plays in one of the most pitcher-friendly environments in college, which may boost his profile above Schwarber.
Here’s what Baseball America had to say:
Recruited by some Big 10 Conference schools to play middle linebacker, Schwarber instead brought his fierce physicality and power to the middle of the diamond, anchoring Indiana’s lineup for the last three seasons. His 18 homers in 2013 ranked third in the country and helped the Hoosiers become the first Big Ten team to reach the College World Series since 1984. Listed at 6-feet, 240 pounds, Schwarber has made considerable improvement defensively over the course of his Indiana career, carrying over some hard-learned lessons when he struggled handling velocity with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team last summer. He still stabs and boxes too many balls, and a long transfer can sabotage his solid-average arm strength, but he’s thrown out 33 percent of basestealers this season after nabbing just 19 percent in 2013. His leadership qualities have been evident with the Hoosiers and he has a strong, durable body for catching, but he’ll never be more than a fringe-average defender. Schwarber fits in the first round for his bat. He’s a smart hitter who studies pitchers and has tremendous strength to punish pitches to all fields. He’s thick and could be quicker on pitches inside with a trimmer physique. He’s a better athlete than he looks and is even a fringy runner with the aggressiveness to have stolen eight bases this spring, second on Indiana’s team. His athleticism gives him a chance to shift to left field if catching doesn’t work out.
And here’s MLB.com:
Schwarber powered Indiana to its first College World Series appearance and first outright Big Ten Conference regular-season championship since 1932 last year, slugging a school-record 18 homers and ranking third in NCAA Division I in that category. Undrafted and relatively unknown coming out of an Ohio high school, he has since established himself as the premier power hitter in the 2014 college Draft class.
He offers lots of strength and bat speed from the left side of the plate, and he’s not a one-dimensional hitter either. Schwarber controls the strike zone well and repeatedly barrels balls, so he should hit for a high average as well.
His offensive ability could make him a star as a catcher — provided that he can stay behind the plate. While he moves well for his size, his throwing and receiving both grade as below average and could prompt a move to the outfield, where he has seen time for the Hoosiers.
Some are speculating that the Cubs have cut a deal with Schwarber, and will use the savings on a high-impact high school arm in the 2nd. The latest in this line of thought is Keith Law (h/t Berselius):
Cubs likely to get Jack Flaherty, HS RHP from Harvard-Westlake, at pick 45 if someone like STL doesn’t grab him first.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 5, 2014
Stay tuned to OV for more profiles, and the latest draft news.