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Thursday, June 19, 2014

ESPN: CHICAGO: Kyle Schwarber moves up quickly

It took all of five games for Kyle Schwarber, the Chicago Cubs’ 2014 first-round pick, to get a promotion. Schwarber dominated Northwest League pitching, racking up four home runs and 10 RBIs to go along with a .600 batting average.

While last year’s top pick, Kris Bryant, spent 18 games with short season Class-A Boise, Schwarber is headed to Low-A baseball in Kane County much quicker. The difference is Schwarber was playing college baseball up until a couple of weeks ago and signed quickly with the Cubs after the draft. After seeing him for a few days—the plan had been to give him a few more games—the Cubs decided he wasn’t rusty and gave him the promotion. Bryant didn’t sign with the Cubs until mid-July so he had been away from competitive baseball for a while and needed more time. He eventually skipped Kane County and went right to High-A Daytona.

Kris Bryant was promoted to AAA.  Also where the heck do these guys play if they make it.

Meatwad Posted: June 19, 2014 at 04:19 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2014 draft, cubs, indiana, prospects

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   1. Greg Pope Posted: June 19, 2014 at 08:30 AM (#4730240)
Are the Cubs planning on keeping him at catcher?
   2. villageidiom Posted: June 19, 2014 at 08:35 AM (#4730241)
Also where the heck do these guys play if they make it.
You worry about that when the time comes.
   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 19, 2014 at 09:05 AM (#4730258)
At the time of the draft McLeod, Senior VP of scouting, said they would try him there but even he didn't sound that confident.

It looks like he spent the vast majority of his short time in Boise behind the plate but he did get a look in LF.
   4. Greg Pope Posted: June 19, 2014 at 10:40 AM (#4730356)
I don't remember if it was here or elsewhere but someone said that Schwarber was a good pick at #3 if he's a catcher, but a reach if he plays anywhere else.
   5. kthejoker Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4730388)
#4: That's probably true for most catchers of the non-Bryce Harper variety.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4730393)
Wow, he's Vitters and Wieters rolled into one.
   7. Covfefe Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4730398)
I'll say this...

The old-fashioned, wall-bouncing, softball teams playing baseball -- lumbering, defensive-deficient sluggers around the diamond -- are fun, if nothing else.

Bryant at 3B, Schwarber at C, Castro/Baez up the middle... Could be a memorably bad defense -- but if they all slug .500, would it matter? Almora and Soler are supposedly plus defenders, so I guess you could exile one of them to LF and carry a glove at C/3B.
   8. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4730415)
I don't remember if it was here or elsewhere but someone said that Schwarber was a good pick at #3 if he's a catcher, but a reach if he plays anywhere else.

I think Schwarber was an intentional reach in that the Cubs didn't see a whole of differentiation in the talent pool so they picked a guy who was relatively advanced ( can help more quickly) and would sign under slot.

They spent some high picks on HS pitchers who slid because they are viewed as likely to go to college. Locking up a couple of thise guys would be nice - nicer if they pan out.

As to Schwarber, nobody seems to actually believe he will stick at C but he seems set on trying. Letting him start there may have been a condition set on drafting and signing him under slot.
   9. Covfefe Posted: June 19, 2014 at 01:00 PM (#4730533)
What's Scwarber's limitation behind the plate?

Bad arm? Poor receiving/pitch blocking skills? Bad at calling games? Everything?

If he can hit, I think he just needs to reach Piazza reputation level D to stick behind the plate... There's virtually nothing at all behind the plate in thee Cubs system beyond Castillo and he's falling a bit short of turning into hte Geo Soto-lite I'd hoped...
   10. Hack Wilson Posted: June 19, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4730635)
Are the
Cubs planning
on keeping him at catcher?

Cubs planning sounds like an oxymoron.
By the way they should have brought Schwarber up to the "big league club" (hah, hah) to play left field.
Chris Coghlan .194 HR=1
Emilio Bonifacio .261 HR=1
Ryan Kalish .242 HR=0
Justin Ruggiano .253 HR=2 (the current star)
Ryan Sweeney .183 HR=0
   11. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 19, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4730670)
What's Scwarber's limitation behind the plate?

Bad arm? Poor receiving/pitch blocking skills? Bad at calling games? Everything?

No idea but maybe we can read into the fact that he got time in LF rather than RF. if it's his arm that's the limitation that 's tough to overcome.
   12. AROM Posted: June 19, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4730680)
When I saw Kris Bryant for the first time, I had a feeling I'd seen him before.

#2 overall pick
6'5 third baseman
First full season, start in AA - 68 games, 355/458/702

Troy Glaus
#3 overall pick
6'5 third baseman
First full season, start in AA - 50 games, 309/430/691

Glaus went to AAA, hit 306/374/598 there. Two years later he was the AL homerun champ.
   13. Scott Lange Posted: June 19, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4730684)
if it's his arm that's the limitation that's tough to overcome.

This is sheer speculation with a dollop of wishful thinking, but with all the buzz around pitch-framing research, perhaps teaching a guy to frame effectively, and therefore catch effectively, is easier than we might have previously thought? If he proves a quick study, perhaps he could stick as a catcher even with a below average arm.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2014 at 06:18 PM (#4731027)
And of course Piazza was infamously bad at throwing; Posada was no gem either. Although it seems unlikely Scwarber will stick there.

Alas, reports suggest Bryant is no Glaus with the glove. Hopefully better than Dean Palmer (or moved).

It will be interesting to see how it all works out for the Cub prospects but the "problem" will likely be solved by a few guys going bust or a trade. But yeah ...

You might like to move Castro off SS but Baez is no great shakes defensively either.
3B is at least one logical spot for Baez/Castro but you have Bryant.
1B is at least one lotical spot for Bryant but you have Rizzo.
LF is at least one logical spot for Bryant but you have Almora/Soler
1B/LF are logical spots for Scwarber but ...

On the other hand, "seven promising position players under the age of 25" is clearly a first-world problem.
   15. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: June 19, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4731045)
I'm plenty familiar with the defensive/postional concerns about most of these guys, but I must have missed anything that said Almora wouldn't be a CF* or Soler wouldn't be a RF** (though those two have had the most disappointing years of the group...)

*Most write-ups about him rave about his defense in CF.
**He appears to have only played RF or DH in the states so far.
   16. SouthSideRyan Posted: June 19, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4731071)
You're correct Moses, and yes Almora has been a ball of sad this year.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2014 at 10:33 PM (#4731180)
Yes, I know there are three OF positions so LF is not "blocked". It is of course also possible to move Baez/Castro to 2B.

But, y'know, stuff happens. FAs get signed, Baez/Castro are disasters at 2B, Baez/Castro are both disasters at SS and one goes to 2B and one to 3B, one of Soler/Almora loses a step or gets injured or the Cubs sign an FA. (Actually, I'm not particularly convinced that Castro would be any better at 2B or 3B -- the problem doesn't seem to be range (move to 3B) or arm strength (move to 2B) but "oops".

This is not a problem but it does create potential for a logjam. The main source of this potential is that the Cubs have drafted/developed a group of prospects who are mostly rather limited at their current positions meaning that, long-term, there is a good chance that some will need to be moved. It would be ideal if these "necessary" moves didn't run the risk of disrupting somebody else.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4731199)
Let me try that again ...

Right now we have 7 players. 8 positions on the field, things are OK.

Suppose Schwarber can't handle C. Now we've got 7 guys for 7 positions and we "have" to live with Bryant at 3B, Castro at SS, Baez at 2B and Schwarber in LF. That sounds like a scary defensive lineup.

Now suppose Bryant (and Schwarber) can't handle 3B. Normally you might move one to LF and another to RF but ... now you've got two LFs.

That's the "problem." Since most here seem to think Scwarber sticking at C is a long shot, step #1 is already the most likely outcome. I'm not sure how likely Bryant is to stick at 3B, call it 75% (at least for a few years) and that's already a 1/4 chance that we've got two guys for LF.

What about the 75% of the time Bryant can stick at 3B? Well, what are the chances that Baez/Castro will be any better at 2B than they are at SS? Or how long can/should the Cubs live with Castro/Baez at SS? Maybe 15% of the time there's a problem with those guys ... so that's another 15% of the time we've got two guys for LF (including scenarios where we have three guys for LF).

Then you get into scenarios where Almora/Soler lose a step, etc. Or whosit develops at 2B.

Again, as problems go, it's a nice one to have. And there's no reason to do anything about it until it actually becomes a problem. We don't even know yet if Schwarber will develop as a hitter ... if he doesn't hit and he can't catch then we don't have to worry about finding a spot for him.

But part of team-building strategy is looking ahead, recognizing risk and planning for it in a sensible way. The chances that Swarber won't stick at C are apparently quite high based on comments here (I have no opinion other than it's obviously common for guys to not work out as Cs). The chances that Schwarber in LF, Bryant at 3B, Baez/Castro at 2B/SS will work defensively strikes me as pretty unlikely (but far from impossible).

But maybe I'm under-rating Bryant's chances of sticking at 3B or Baez/Castro's suitability for 2B/3B.
   19. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 20, 2014 at 12:16 AM (#4731230)
Or whosit develops at 2B.

Alcantara :)

EDIT: and I have no idea how fielding percentage might translate (or how much it really tells us about minor league fielding) BUT Baez has seen some improvement in that area. If it translates directly to MLB (which at least it SHOULD) he's around Hanley Ramirez territory with a .957. That doesn't sound terribly impressive but it represents a solid improvement. His bat is a whole other story.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 06:39 AM (#4731269)
What's Scwarber's limitation behind the plate?

Bad arm?

There were two throws on his draft video. In one he basically two-hopped the ball to second, and in the other, he nearly threw it into center field.

He may have other issues as well - I can't say for sure.

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