Cubs' Schwarber is Pipeline Position Prospect of Year
For a second straight season, a Chicago Cubs player is taking home honors as MLBPipeline.com's Position Prospect of the Year.
Following 2014 winner Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber was the unanimous choice this year for his success between the Minor and Major Leagues.
Schwarber put up monster numbers in the Minors this season, batting a combined .323/.430/.591 with 16 home runs, 17 doubles and 49 RBIs in 75 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
Meanwhile, the 22-year-old's .891 OPS, 13 home runs, 38 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 50 games with the Cubs is a major reason why the franchise appears playoff-bound for the first time since 2008.
"It's been a good season. I obviously still want to keep getting better," Schwarber said. "Overall, it's been a crazy year. I'm just trying to keep the same mindset and keep trying to help this team win."
The No. 4 pick in the 2014 MLB Draft opened the season at Tennessee, where he continued to improve behind the plate and ranked among the best in the Southern League in most offensive categories, batting .320/.438/.579 with 13 home runs, 10 doubles and 39 RBIs in 58 games for the Smokies. Though Schwarber was already on the Cubs' big league radar, the club's need for a designated hitter for Interleague Play accelerated his timeline, leading to an earlier-than-expected, albeit temporary, promotion in mid-June.
Schwarber's first start in the Major Leagues came in front of friends and family at Progressive Field, and the Ohio native didn't disappoint, going 4-for-5 with a triple -- his first career hit -- three runs scored and two RBIs as the Cubs blew out the Indians, 17-0.
Schwarber was sent to Triple-A Iowa after six games with the North Siders as part of the organization's predetermined plan -- one which would allow him to further refine his defense behind the plate before returning for the long haul -- but not before he made an indelible impression by going 8-for-22 (.364) with a .982 OPS, his first home run and six RBIs.
Fresh off an MVP performance in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game, Schwarber rejoined the Cubs in mid-July to assume primary catching duties in the absence of an injured Miguel Montero. Since then, he's been one of the Cubs' top hitters: Entering Friday, Schwarber ranked second on the club in home runs (12) and runs scored (35) as well as third in OPS (.878) and RBIs (32) in 44 games since the All-Star break.
More significantly, the Cubs are 31-19 with him in the lineup.
"It's all about winning, it's all about having fun," said Schwarber. "We know we're trying to do something special here. We know the mindset we have to have. It's awesome to come in here every day and compete and try to go to the playoffs and try to go to the World Series."
The Cubs' second-half success has meant fewer catching opportunities for Schwarber, with the team instead preferring to deploy the young slugger in left field. However, he's not ready to move off his longtime position just yet. In fact, Schwarber often can be found catching pitchers on the side or in the bullpen.
"If something happens, I could be back there," he noted. "I'm trying to stay fresh. I'm always trying to keep it as a possibility. It's something I want to do. If the team wants me to do something else, I'll do something else."
Considering what Schwarber has accomplished in his first full professional season, perhaps the question is "What can't he do?"