Kyle Schwarber's pre-draft scouting report hinted at his future postseason stardom
For some players, the journey to the Major Leagues is a decade-long soul-searching mission. For others, like Kyle Schwarber, that path is more like a rocket ship ascending straight toward an incoming asteroid.
Let's not forget that at this time last year, Schwarber was coming off a 311-plate appearance professional debut in which he cracked 18 home runs between three Class A levels after the Cubs selected him fourth overall in the 2014 Draft.
Since then, Schwarber hit 16 Major League home runs in his first 69 regular-season MLB games and has already set a Cubs' rookie record with three home runs this postseason. Remember that he starred in the All-Star Futures Game this July. That's not supposed to happen -- it's not the Back to the Futures Game (Cubs prophecy notwithstanding).
But it's also not a complete surprise. Two scouting reports produced by the MLB Scouting Bureau several months before Schwarber was drafted as a junior out of Indiana University portended future stardom. Take a look:
While Schwarber's batting stance may not be quite so crouched now, his first season slash line of .246/.355/.487 is remarkably similar to Bagwell's .294/.387/.437 rookie line from 1991. Advanced metrics that account for ballpark and league averages peg Schwarber at a 128 OPS+ (28 percent better than league average) and a 131 wRC+. Bagwell checked in at a 139 OPS+ and a 138 wRC+ in '91.
Of course, there was one other comp given to Schwarber: Matt Stairs.
While many will hope for the near-Hall of Fame-worthy numbers like Bagwell's, if the Cubs slugger can replicate Stairs' 265 career home runs and postseason home runs like this, I don't think anyone will mind. Given Schwarber's postseason performance this year, that may not be too difficult.
As for the full grades:
Click here to view in full size.
The reviews look pretty prescient now, even if they may not have predicted Schwarber's almost-immediate impact in the lineup. But, after all, who could? As the scouts noted, the bulky Schwarber is "more grinder than athlete," but has already molded himself into a terrifying hitter. Probably because he "wants to hit, impact game and help [the] team win" and "plays hard all the time. Sets himself apart."
Schwarber has shown some impressive abilities in the field -- splitting time at both outfield corners and behind the plate in his rookie season. Perhaps thanks to his high baseball IQ, he has come up to make big plays like this time and again:
Of course, the real reason you're here: That "7" future power, which he may have already reached. Including the postseason, Schwarber has hit 19 home runs in less than 300 PA, putting him on a 40-homer pace across a full season.
Oh, and as for those instincts and his "knack for making things happen":
While Schwarber's future may lie as a full-time outfielder, that's mostly because his prodigious offensive abilities, as noted even in pre-draft evaluations, have earned him a lineup slot before he had time to fully develop his skills behind the plate.
Given the way he's crushed the ball so far in his career, I don't think anyone will mind.