Results tagged ‘ Kyle Schwarber ’
On Tuesday, the Cubs punched their ticket to the National League Championship Series with a 6-4 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS. Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber all blasted home runs, and the bullpen sealed the game late to give the Cubs a 3-1 series win.
Yesterday marks the first time in franchise history that the Cubs clinched a postseason series at Wrigley Field. They now await the winner of the Dodgers-Mets NLDS series. The NLCS will get underway on Saturday.
The Cubs today placed catcher Miguel Montero on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to July 12) with a sprained left thumb and recalled catcher Kyle Schwarber from Triple-A Iowa. Schwarber will be available for the Cubs tonight against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The 22-year-old Schwarber returns for his second stint with the Cubs this season. He batted .364 (8-for-22) with a triple, home run and six RBI during a six-game run from June 16-21. He made his big league debut as a defensive replacement on June 16 vs. Cleveland and made his first start on June 17 in Cleveland, going 4-for-5 with a triple, an RBI and three runs scored as the designated hitter. He recorded his first big league home run the next night in Cleveland.
Following his big league stint, Schwarber was optioned to Iowa for his first stop at Triple-A and batted .333 (20-for-60) with seven doubles, three homers, 10 RBI and seven walks in 17 games. On Sunday in Cincinnati, Schwarber was named Most Valuable Player of the Futures Game after going 1-for-3 with a two-run triple as the starting catcher and three-hole hitter for the U.S. Team in their 10-1 victory vs. the World Team.
Schwarber was selected by the Cubs in the first round of the 2014 Draft (fourth overall) and has batted .333 with 35 doubles, 34 homers, 102 RBI, 88 walks and a 1.042 OPS in 147 minor league games. He began the season ranked the fourth-best prospect in the organization by Baseball America and was recently ranked the 15th-best prospect in all of baseball by ESPN.com.
The left-handed hitting Schwarber began the 2015 season with Tennessee, where he batted .320 with 10 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs and 39 RBI in 58 games to earn Southern League All-Star honors. He turned in a .438 on-base percentage and a .579 slugging percentage, good for a 1.017 OPS, prior to his June 16 call-up to the majors.
Schwarber was drafted by the Cubs out of Indiana University, where he was a two-time First-Team All-American after batting .341 with 40 home runs and 149 RBI in 180 career games. He was named one of three finalists for the 2014 Johnny Bench Award, given to the top Division One catcher in the nation, and was selected as the top catcher in the country by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in 2013.
The 6-foot, 235-pound Schwarber played across three levels in the Cubs system last year, culminating with 44 games with Single-A Daytona. He hit above .300 at each level and collected three Player of the Week honors along the way. He finished third among Cubs minor leaguers with 18 home runs despite not making his season debut until June 13.
Montero, 32, is batting .230 (50-for-217) with five doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 73 games during his first season with the Cubs.
Cubs farmhand Kyle Schwarber was named the organization’s player of the month for May. (Photo by Stephen Green)
On Wednesday, the Cubs named Double-A Tennessee catcher Kyle Schwarber and Single-A South Bend right-handed pitcher Ryan Williams the organization’s minor league player and pitcher of the month for May, respectively.
Schwarber, 22, batted .297 (27-for-91) with eight homers, two doubles, 17 RBI and 18 runs scored in 28 games for Tennessee. He drew 24 walks and delivered a 1.026 OPS thanks to a .443 on-base percentage and a .582 slugging mark. He ranked first in the Southern League in walks, second in home runs, third in OPS and OBP, and fourth in slugging percentage during the month. Additionally, Schwarber led all Cubs prospects in homers, walks, slugging and OPS, while ranking second in OBP.
In 47 games for Tennessee this season, Schwarber is hitting .312 (49-for-157) with seven doubles, one triple, 12 homers, 32 RBI, 31 runs scored and 37 walks. He leads the Southern League with a .439 OBP, .599 slugging mark, a 1.038 OPS and 37 walks, while ranking second with 12 home runs and third with 94 total bases.
Schwarber was selected by Chicago in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University where he was a two-time First-Team All-American. He has batted .332 (139-for-419) with 30 homers, 25 doubles, 85 RBI and 86 runs scored in 119 minor league contests. The left-handed hitter has a .621 career slugging mark and a .432 OBP, thanks in part to 76 walks.
Williams, 23, went 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA (6 ER/34.0 IP) in five starts for South Bend during the month of May. He struck out 23 batters without issuing a walk to any of his 125 batters faced. He tossed four quality starts and twice tied a season high with 8.0 innings pitched, including 8.0 scoreless frames in the club’s 3-2 win on May 22 versus Bowling Green. The right-handed pitcher led the Midwest League in WHIP (0.76), while ranking third in ERA.
Williams began the season 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA (7 ER/53.2 IP) in nine games (eight starts) with South Bend. Entering today, he struck out 37 batters compared to two walks and held the opposition to a .190 batting average and a .461 OPS. His ERA and opponent batting average are both second-lowest in the Midwest League.
Williams was selected by the Cubs in the 10th round of the 2014 draft out of East Carolina University, where he was a Third-Team All-America selection in 2014. He entered today 6-2 with a 1.23 ERA (11 ER/80.1 IP) in 20 minor league appearances, including eight starts. He’s fanned 66 batters, while walking just five, and held opponents to a .201 batting average. Opponents hit just two home runs of him in 80.1 innings of work in the last two seasons.
The Cubs assigned 12 players to minor league camp Thursday, reducing their spring roster from 52 players to 40.
Right-handed pitcher Blake Parker and left-handed pitcher Joseph Ortiz have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Ten nonroster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: Right-handed pitchers Daniel Bard, Anthony Carter, Jorge De Leon and Gonzalez Germen; left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno; infielder Chris Valaika; outfielders Albert Almora, Mike Baxter and Adron Chambers; and catcher Kyle Schwarber.
Chicago’s spring roster of 40 players consists of 20 pitchers (one nonroster invitee), four catchers (one nonroster invitee), nine infielders (three nonroster invitees) and seven outfielders.
Not only is prospect Kyle Schwarber one of baseball’s best prospects, he’s also viewed as possessing the organization’s best hit tool. (Photo by Stephen Green)
MLB.com’s Prospect Watch unveiled its version of the top 100 minor leaguers and top farm systems in the game on Friday. It should come as little surprise that the Cubs had the top crop of minor leaguers, including six in the top 100: Kris Bryant (No. 2), Addison Russell (No. 5), Jorge Soler (No. 23), C.J. Edwards (No. 48), Kyle Schwarber (No. 50) and Albert Almora (No. 58).
The organization’s top 30 prospects were also unveiled on Friday. Just looking at the list should give fans an idea of the depth in the system. Plenty of solid players continue to add their names to the cue, only adding excitement for what’s coming down the line on the major league side.
Third baseman Kris Bryant is the most devastating power-hitting prospect in the game, and outfielder Jorge Soler (who homered off Mat Latos in his first big league at-bat) isn’t far behind. Neither is catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber. Addison Russell is a rare five-tool shortstop, and Gleyber Torres might be another. Outfielders Albert Almora and Billy McKinney could be the tablesetters for all those run producers.
Given the Cubs’ enviable depth in the farm system, fans have grown accustomed to seeing lists of this nature. But MLB.com takes their list one step further by breaking down players by best tools, a unique way to better understand individual strengths.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools — 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Hit: Kyle Schwarber (60)
Power: Kris Bryant (80)
Run: Jacob Hannemann (65)
Arm: Jorge Soler (65)
Defense: Albert Almora (65)
Fastball: Duane Underwood (65)
Curveball: C.J. Edwards (60)
Slider: Jake Stinnett (60)
Changeup: Jen-Ho Tseng (55)
Control: Eric Jokisch (55)
The Cubs enviable stockpile of young talent is no secret around the game. People started rumbling about the organization’s burgeoning system a few years ago. Now groups like ESPN, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus all agree the Cubs have the top farm in baseball.
During Spring Training, Vine Line sat down with the Cubs next wave of talent—including Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell—to ask what they’ve gotten out of being in big league camp and what their goals are for the coming season.
We’ll be posting videos and stories from Sloan Park all spring, so make sure you’re watching the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.
Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:
Cubscast Mesa: Spring sit-down with manager Joe Maddon
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, If I weren’t a ballplayer …
Cubscast Mesa: Checking in with the 2015 Cubs coaching staff
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, If I could have one talent or superpower
Cubscast Mesa: The Cubs are setting a positive tone in camp
Cubscast Mesa: The Lighter Side, What the Cubs are watching on TV
It’s not easy to make it to the big leagues, and some of the guys who do make it can have short careers. That’s why it’s important to have a fallback plan. We asked some of your favorite Cubs players what they would be doing if they weren’t involved in professional baseball.
You may think you know your Cubs, but do you know which man dreams of running a resort hotel? Or who wants to join the FBI? Check out the above video to learn the answers. Some of them might surprise you (we’re looking at you, Pierce Johnson).
We’ll be posting videos and stories from Sloan Park all spring, so make sure you’re watching the blog and our Twitter account, @cubsvineline.
Check out the other videos from our Spring Training series:
Jorge Soler should be featured in the middle of the Cubs’ order in 2015. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Scouting publication Baseball America unveiled its 25th preseason top 100 prospects list on Friday. Of course, there were plenty of Cubs farmhands scattered throughout the rankings, including Kris Bryant as the top prospect and Addison Russell coming in at No. 3. Also included on the link are the player grades on a 20-80 scouting scale and the estimated time before each player makes his major league debut.
The publication also released a coinciding story titled “What Could Go Wrong?” for each of baseball’s top 10 prospects. Here’s where each member of the Cubs organization fell on Baseball America’s list, as well as the pros and cons of the elite-level Cubs minor leaguers:
1. Kris Bryant, 3b, Cubs
What Could Go Wrong: Like many sluggers, Bryant’s power has always come with some swings and misses. Bryant’s strikeout rate in the minors isn’t all that much better than Javier Baez’s was at similar levels, although Bryant’s understanding of the strike zone has been better. If Bryant’s strikeout rate climbs even further in the majors like Baez’s did, it could quickly end up higher than 30 percent, which puts a massive amount of pressure on the rest of his plate appearances.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry: Bryant has shown an advanced understanding of hitting and has made steady adjustments throughout his career. His production got better and better in his three years at San Diego and he’s shown little trouble adjusting to tougher pitching as a pro. His work ethic and understanding of his swing makes him more likely to replicate Giancarlo Stanton’s steady strikeout rate improvement than an Adam Dunn feast-or-famine approach.
3. Addison Russell, ss, Cubs
What Could Go Wrong: There are no clear red flags in Russell’s game that should clearly derail his big league dreams. He’s an outstanding athlete with a sweet swing and a track record of hitting. If you’re looking to nitpick, the crowded Cubs infield may force Russell to move off of shortstop, and he became a little more aggressive upon joining the Cubs’ Double-A club. His bat should handle a move to pretty much any other spot, but he’s most valuable as a shortstop with a corner outfielder’s bat.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry: The worst-case scenario for Russell is still a pretty solid player, whose solid but not spectacular arm strength could move him off short. His athleticism should make him as least a useful defender if he moves, and his power would make him playable even is his batting average were to dip.
12. Jorge Soler, of
19. Kyle Schwarber, c/of
38. C.J. Edwards, rhp
83. Billy McKinney, of
C.J. Edwards is one of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects. (Photo by Roger C. Hooever)
The fact that Cubs farmhands continue to pop up all over prospect rankings is an ongoing testament to the job Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been doing since they took over the baseball operations department in late 2011. On Tuesday, baseball website FanGraphs released its top 200 prospects, which included 11 members of the Cubs’ organization.
Seeing Kris Bryant and Addison Russell as high as they are is no longer much of a surprise, but 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber’s inclusion in the top 25 puts him in elite territory. It’s also worth mentioning that three of the Cubs’ first four picks in the 2012 draft are included.
Each capsule below includes a brief segment from the individual’s FanGraphs scouting report. Check out the link above for a more comprehensive report on each player.
1. Kris Bryant, 3B
Scouting Report: Bryant is the top prospect in the game for me and for a majority of sources I talked to, but it isn’t by a landslide. Bryant still has some questions, and the guy right behind him could be terrifyingly good. Bryant has either 75 or 80 raw power for scouts, but the two questions about him are 1) how much contact he’ll make/how much of his power will he get to in games, and 2) if he will play third base or right field.
3. Addison Russell, SS
Scouting Report: [Russell] went 11th overall to Oakland and surprised from day one with how advanced he was offensively, while continuing to improve defensively. He was dealt to the Cubs last year in the Jeff Samardzija deal and joins a glut of talented young hitters for the Cubs. The biggest remaining question for Russell is if he can still stick at shortstop due to a hitch in his release that limits how quickly he can unload the ball deep in the hole.
13. Jorge Soler, RF
Scouting Report: He’s an explosive quick-twitch power hitter with easy plus bat speed and raw power, along with just enough huge cuts and erratic stuff to his game that you never know what you might see. The erratic aspects of his game slowly melted away this year as he matured mentally and had his first full year of reps in the system with a clean bill of health.
21. Kyle Schwarber, LF
Scouting Report: The Cubs took him #4 overall out of Indiana. … They’ll develop him as a catcher this year, but most assume his bat will be ready before his glove, meaning he’ll be a part-time catcher at best. There’s legit 30 homer power and surprising feel to hit with a realistic chance for a big league look in late 2016.
64. C.J. Edwards, RHP
Scouting Report: Edwards was a near unknown pitcher as an amateur; you don’t see many pitchers this high on prospect lists that signed for $50,000 out of high school in the 48th round. The Cubs smartly grabbed him from Texas in the Matt Garza trade late in his breakout season in 2013. He’s still a rail-thin righty that some think will never add the necessary bulk to throw 200 innings in the big leagues, but the stuff and command projects for the middle of the rotation.
92. Albert Almora, CF
Scouting Report: He’ll need to make some adjustments to his approach since Double-A was the first level where he couldn’t hit with that approach. If he makes some progress there, he has 15+ homer power and near Gold Glove defense, so there’s some real ceiling despite just solid raw tools.
124. Duane Underwood, RHP
Scouting Report: Underwood was an inconsistent prep arm from Atlanta in the 2012 draft that, early in his pro career, look to be more bust than boom. He turned things around and had a breakout 2014 campaign in Low-A, flashing three plus pitches at times.
125. Pierce Johnson, RHP
Scouting Report: Johnson popped up in his draft year at Missouri State flashing above average stuff, slipping on draft day due to some concerns about his delivery, command and future health prospects. Johnson has avoided major injuries and performed well, with his above average to plus fastball-curveball combo giving him #3 starter upside, but the command and consistency have been bugaboos and he may ultimate fit best in the bullpen.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach, outfielder Billy McKinney and shortstop Gleyber Torres were also listed among the unranked players to round out FanGraphs’ top 200 prospects.
Albert Almora is one of the Cubs’ brightest future stars. (Photo by Stephen Green)
As evidenced by the additions of players like Jon Lester and Miguel Montero, the Cubs front office is transitioning from a period in which it focused primarily on bringing in assets to help improve the future of the franchise to an extended period in which they expect to compete every year at the big league level. However, if you were to suggest to baseball president Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer that this transition means they are now less inclined to build through their farm system, they would be quick to correct you.
Just because Cubs fans may finally start seeing wins accumulate at Wrigley Field doesn’t mean the minor league pipeline is suddenly going to go overlooked. In fact, for the second year in a row, the North Siders will have arguably the best system in all of baseball. Boasting the top prospect in the game, an overabundance of high-profile shortstops and a suddenly large group of interesting arms at the lower levels, the Cubs have built the scouting and player development monster they promised to deliver more than three years ago.
In our annual minor league prospectus, Baseball Prospectus’ Sahadev Sharma helps us break down the names to know at all levels of the system. As the month progresses, we’ll unveil player bios on a section-by-section basis. Here is Part 1 of the Cubs minor league prospectus:
The truly elite portion of the Cubs system took a hit last year—the good kind—when Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler graduated to the big league club. However, the front office, always with an eye toward long-term success, added two huge names to the fold in Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber, both of whom are generating tremendous buzz. The Cubs will enter this season with arguably the best system in baseball, and while there is plenty of depth, it’s these top-tier names who really make this an impressive bunch.
Albert Almora – CF
While some are down on Almora after a largely disappointing season at the plate, don’t forget he’s still considered an elite-level defender in center field, which brings tremendous value, and that he’s always been very young for his level. This past season was the first time he has ever struggled at any aspect of the game, professional or otherwise, in his life.
The 20-year-old has such tremendous hand-eye coordination that he can put pretty much any pitch into play. When he initially struggled at High-A, the Cubs challenged him to be more selective at the plate and to put more emphasis on driving the ball rather than just making contact. He quickly adjusted, and the Cubs rewarded him with a promotion to Tennessee, where he ended the season with a subpar .605 OPS in 36 games.
But that shouldn’t slow the confident Almora, who competed in a Double-A league with players nearly a half-decade older than him on average. Selected with the sixth-overall pick in the 2012 draft, the outfielder is also known for his strong mental makeup, so few people doubt he’ll be able to overcome his challenges in 2014.
Once again, he’ll need to learn what it means to really control the strike zone and get pitches he can do damage with. But if Almora can make that final leap and become the hitter many believe he has the potential to be, the complete package could be quite special.
Kris Bryant – 3B
From a purely statistical standpoint, Bryant’s 2014 season was one of the most impressive minor league performances in recent memory. And it wasn’t solely numbers driven. Scouts loved what they saw from him with the bat, and it’s understandable why many believe the power-hitting righty is the best prospect in the game. Bryant’s power stroke was on full display last summer, when he delivered 43 home runs and 34 doubles across two minor league levels on his way to winning nearly every minor league award he was eligible for.
There are two key questions about Bryant’s game: strikeouts and defense. While swing and miss will likely always be a part of his game—as it is for most home run hitters—insiders don’t believe he has the kind of serious contact issues that could derail him on his journey to stardom. As Bryant continues to develop and learn about himself as a hitter, it’s easy to see him fixing the minor holes he has at the plate because of his extreme work ethic and his ability to self-scout and analyze game video.
The 23-year-old is a cerebral player who is constantly working to improve, which is why the Cubs believe he can at least begin his major league career at third base. He’s worked hard to avoid a move to the outfield, and he made major strides with the glove last summer. He certainly has the arm to stick at third—or play in right if an outfield move eventually becomes necessary. At 6-foot-5, Bryant is tall and rangy, making it difficult at times for him to get small and stay in front of the ball. Though his actions are longer than those of a more compact player, he has diligently worked with his minor league instructors to stay mobile and agile at the hot corner.
Addison Russell – SS
Russell joined the Cubs organization on July 4 in a huge trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and the recently returned Jason Hammel to Oakland. The highly regarded shortstop got off to a slow start in 2014 due to a hamstring issue, but after joining the Cubs, he immediately displayed why he’s widely considered one of the 10 best prospects in baseball.
Russell definitely understands his game. At times, he can get a little too rotational at the plate, but when he stays through the ball, he can drive it to both gaps, and he backspins it as well as anyone. Thanks to his strong hands, everything really jumps off his bat, and many project he’ll display quite a bit more power as he continues to learn pitch selection and figures out which balls he can leverage. But expect more line drives from Russell, not the kind of towering shots we’ll see from Bryant.
Some wonder if it’s in the cards for the 21-year-old to stick at shortstop long term, but he is a tremendous athlete. He’s explosive and possesses impressive quick-twitch, first-step movements. When he gets to a ball, he makes the play, but he doesn’t have the ideal body. It’s more of a football look—boxier and stronger than the traditional shortstop, who’s normally graceful and a little more fluid. Still, when you watch him over time, he does everything the smoother-looking shortstops can do (and often more), due to his body control and arm strength.
Kyle Schwarber – C/OF
Many felt the Cubs were reaching when they selected Schwarber with the fourth-overall pick in last summer’s amateur draft, but the team was adamant he was second on their board—behind first-overall pick Brady Aiken—and that they were getting a special talent. Schwarber did nothing to dispel the Cubs’ belief in him, tearing through three levels thanks to his impressive bat. The linebacker-like lefty really understands what he’s doing at the plate. He has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field and can send a double to the left-center gap as easily as he can pull a long, towering home run. The Indiana University product possesses a special combination of bat speed, plate discipline and pitch recognition, and displays a short, compact stroke with leverage.
The Cubs took Schwarber under the assumption he’d end up in left field, but the improvements he made defensively in such a short timespan were impressive enough for the organization to shift philosophies in his development plan. They’re now allowing him to give catching a real try. Most college players prefer to shift out of catching so they can get on the fast track to the big leagues. Schwarber realizes that being behind the plate will slow his timetable, but it’s what he wants to do. That desire is what many believe is a separator for him.
Schwarber has worked hard with catching instructor Tim Cossins to improve his transfer and set-up, and the results have been eye-opening. College pitching coaches generally call every aspect of the game, so while Schwarber possesses all the smarts and intangibles organizations love behind the plate, he has a ways to go before becoming the de facto field general at the major league level.
—Sahadev Sharma, Baseball Prospectus