The Chicago Cubs tabbed catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber out of Indiana University with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft. A finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the top Division I catcher in the nation, the left-hander power hitter was considered the top power hitter in the draft class.
"Kyle has been one of the premier performers in the college ranks the last few years. He displays what we look for in patience and power at the plate," said Jason McLeod, Cubs Vice President of Scouting and Player Development. "He is a high character guy we think teammates will rally around." McLeod said Schwarber was second on the Cubs board behind Aikens and expected the Middleton, Ohio native to sign quickly.
"He's got legit 30 home run power and has the approach and looseness at the plate to be a 50 bat or better and get to that power in games," said Kiley McDaniel of scout.com. "He isn't a great runner but is a solid athlete for his size. Schwarber catches a lot right now and is fringy back there with an average arm, but makes the most of his tools. The best power in the draft comes from the left side, with enough bat to get to it in games, a track record of production and some defensive value as well." McDaniel also projects the Cubs to save about $1.1 million as his sources are projecting Schwarber's bonus at $3.5 million, below the $4.62 slot limit.
During his junior season this year, he hit .358 (83-for-232) with 14 home runs (tied for seventh-most in the nation) and 48 RBI for the Hoosiers in 2014, adding career-highs with 66 runs, 16 doubles, six triples, 44 walks (compared to 30 strikeouts) and 10 stolen bases while starting all 59 of Indiana's games. Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, recorded a .464 on-base percentage alongside a .659 slugging percentage, good for a 1.123 OPS. Schwarber registered a .992 fielding percentage (3 E/383 TC) this season, and threw out 16 of 43 (37 percent) of attempted base stealers.
Recommended by area scout Stan Zielinski, the six-foot, 240-pounder owns a .341 batting average (238-for-697) with 40 home runs and 149 RBI in 180 games in his three seasons with Indiana, adding 182 runs, 41 doubles, 12 triples and 23 stolen bases. He has walked 116 times compared to 91 strikeouts, leading to a .437 on-base percentage. He owns a .984 career fielding percentage, primarily at catcher while also playing some outfield, and has thrown out 51 of 154 (33 percent) of attempted base stealers.
In 2013, he was named the top catcher in the country and First Team All-American by Perfect Game and the NCBWA after hitting .366 (86-for-235) with 18 home runs (first in the Big Ten and third nationally) and 54 RBI in 61 games. He recorded a .456 on-base percentage, walking 42 times, and slugged .647, best in the Big Ten. He committed just three errors en route to a .989 fielding percentage. He was named Academic All-Big Ten and joined USA's Collegiate National Team after the season.
As a freshman in 2012, Schwarber started all 60 of Indiana's games, including 54 at catcher. He posted a .300 batting average (69-for-230) alongside a .390 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage while hitting eight homers and driving in 47 runs. Behind the dish, he nabbed 27 would-be base stealers, good for second-most in the conference.
If he signs quickly and completes his orientation in Mesa, he could break camp with Boise, and if he doesn't good join the Hawks soon. Chicago area fans may get a chance to seek the top pick by season's end as a promotion to Kane County is not out of the question with a playoff berth already clinched. He has a good shot at moving through the Cubs system quickly, especially io they move him to an outfield as some are projecting.
Recent first round selections including compensation picks include: 2013—Kris Bryant 3B; 2012—Albert Almora OF, Pierce Johnson P (comp), Paul Blackburn P (comp); 2011—Javier Baez SS; 2010—Hayden Simpson P; 2009—Brett Jackson OF; 2008—Andrew Cashner P, Ryan Flaherty SS (comp); 2007, Josh Vitters 3B , Josh Donaldson C (comp); 2006, Tyler Colvin OF; 2005, Mark Pawelek P; 2004—No pick.
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