I’ll have much more from today’s season ticket holder event soon – there was a lot to digest – but I want to get you some important stuff this afternoon (while not spoiling everything for the folks who are still going to the later sessions today and tomorrow).
One of the biggies was Theo Epstein’s confirmation that prospect Kyle Schwarber will begin the 2015 season, either at High-A or AA, as a full-time catcher.
You may recall that the Cubs sent Schwarber to the instructional league this year to work on his receiving skills, because they’ve started to believe there really is a chance he could stick at catcher – something most folks thought impossible back in the days of the draft. Epstein said today that Schwarber has improved dramatically in his receiving skills, noting that Schwarber previously used to drop to one knee consistently, which wouldn’t play at the big league level. It sounds like Schwarber’s catching mechanics have been overhauled, and Epstein said he’s starting to look like a guy who could be a big league catcher.
This is huge news at an organizational level, because having a bat like Schwarber’s behind the plate – even part-time, and part-time elsewhere – would be a tremendous boon to the offense, whenever he does arrive in the bigs.
Until then, we’ll get to see how he’s faring next year, wherever he starts the season. Given that he’s going to be catching full-time, a return to High-A (now Myrtle Beach) would not be a surprise or a disappointment. A 2015 arrival for Schwarber is highly unlikely, but 2016 remains on the radar.
For those who wonder: no, I don’t think this will necessarily change the Cubs’ near-term approach behind the plate at the big league level, given that so much can happen between now and when/if Schwarber arrives as a catcher, and given that it remains possible he’ll be a part-time catcher down the road, rather than an everyday catcher. If there’s an upgrade available that makes sense, even if over several years, I don’t think Schwarber – right now – will stop the Cubs from making it.