In the week after the draft, there’s always a quick run on high round picks signing and getting their professional careers underway. Usually, when guys sign in the few days after the draft, it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that they’d already discussed signing parameters with the team that picked them, and it was just a matter of a physical and some documents before the deal could be announced. To date, as many eight to ten first rounders have agreed to a deal, depending on your source.
And I know what you’re wondering: if Chicago Cubs first round pick Kyle Schwarber was an under slot selection, such that presumably the Cubs knew precisely how much it would take to sign him, why isn’t a deal done already? To you, I say: hold your horses (delayed pun right there … just wait for it). First, we know that Schwarber came to Chicago this weekend, presumably to effectuate the physical/signing process, so there’s no reason to be concerned. Second, the draft just finished a few days ago, and short season leagues don’t even start until the end of this week. It’s really not a big deal if finalizing the signing takes a week or so (or even a bit longer). The Cubs will have plenty of time to figure out their other signings (the deadline isn’t until mid-July), and Schwarber will have plenty of time to play some pro ball this season.
In the end, we’ll probably learn of a deal at some point this week (indeed, just now on the Kap and Haugh show, GM Jed Hoyer suggested an announcement could be coming as soon as today), and Schwarber’s signing bonus is likely to be in the $3 million to $3.6 million range, based on where he likely would have slid if the Cubs hadn’t selected him. Nick Gordon, the high school shortstop taken immediately after Schwarber reportedly got slot for the fifth selection – $3.851 million – but I don’t see that artificially raising Schwarber’s price tag (i.e., the fourth pick, in this situation, doesn’t have to “beat” the fifth pick).
Just have a little patience, and we’ll find out most of what we want to know soon enough.
As for other Schwarber bits …
- Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod hit up a number of media outlets in the past week, extolling the virtues of the club’s top pick. He surprised folks after the first day of the draft, saying that Schwarber was number two on the Cubs’ board, behind only top pick Brady Aiken. Some are skeptical, but McLeod told Sahadev Sharma that it’s the truth. “I’ve always said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that certainly holds true in the draft,” McLeod said, per Sharma’s ESPN report. “There may have been teams that had Kyle Schwarber 10th or 15th on their list, but, like I said, he was No. 2 on ours. You do your work on the signability, for sure, and what you think a player will sign for, you have those kinds of discussions. But that’s not what’s going to be the determining factor for us on where we’re going to place a guy on the board or if we’ll pick him.”
- Although the Cubs do think Schwarber can move quickly, given his advanced approach at the plate and college experience, McLeod was quick to remind folks, essentially, that Kris Bryant is a freak, and that shouldn’t be the expectation for Schwarber.
- Speaking of moving quickly, I still wonder about Schwarber’s position. I’ve been discussing him flatly as an outfielder, because I do think it’s highly likely that’s where he winds up in short order. That is, in part, because you do want to see the bat move quickly. Catchers – and their catching skills – tend to develop slowly, with the defense far lagging the offense. That can be a problem if you’re trying to move the bat up to more challenging levels to continue the development there. That, combined with the health risks of catching, is why you see so many top catcher bats moved to another position at the low levels of the minors. I still expect that’ll the case with Schwarber, howeva …
- Schwarber’s college coach tells the Tribune, “I know the Team USA coaches weren’t sure what to expect last summer, and scouts wondered about his ability to catch. But they came to me later and said, ‘You know what? I’m not sure he can’t catch.’” He’s rather convinced that Schwarber can be a catcher in the pros, though college coaches often feel very strongly about their players. If Schwarber could stick at catcher, it would certainly be tantalizing to try and keep him there, given the bat profile. But he’d have to be able to move relatively quickly on his catching skills.
- I did hear McLeod on one of his radio appearances say that they’ll give Schwarber some time behind the plate when he starts out, presumably at Boise (after a brief adjustment period at rookie ball), but he’ll also rotate to the outfield. McLeod mentioned that Schwarber’s personality and leadership skills are very well-suited to catcher, and it is something that Schwarber really enjoys. But, to paraphrase McLeod, the Cubs drafted him for his bat.
- Lastly, about holding those horses: