After hitting .364/.391/.591 in his very short stint with the Chicago Cubs (23 PAs), Kyle Schwarber headed out west to Des Moines for his promotion to AAA Iowa. Aside from helping the Cubs win, Schwarber was grateful for his opportunity with the major league team and apparently learned a lot from the big league catchers and staff. You can read more about his time spent at the big league level, including quotes from his teammates, coaches and himself, here, here, here, here and here.
But his time with Chicago has passed and Schwarber has a new challenge ahead of him.
Hitting third in his AAA debut for the Iowa Cubs earlier this week, Schwarber went 0-4 with two strike outs. While he flashed his talents with the bat at the major league level, the success came in a very small sample. Schwarber may have less to prove with that bat than most prospects, but that doesn’t mean AAA will be piece of cake. He will be facing better pitchers than he’s used to, who will be able to execute a game plan better than the guys at lower levels of the minors who often rely solely on stuff to get by.
On the defensive side, Tommy Birch, recalls a few misplays from Schwarber’s AAA debut, that serve to underscore how raw Schwarber still is as a catcher, too:
The first came on a passed ball that got by Schwarber which allowed Omaha’s Orlando Calixte to advance from second to third. Calixte eventually scored on a sacrifice fly…Later in the inning, Schwarber airmailed a throw to second on an attempted steal by Dusty Coleman.
He did throw out a runner, to end the 8th inning, though.
Schwarber’s dedication to improving has been well documented, but the buck doesn’t stop on traditional catcher defense. Iowa hitting coach Brian Harper (a former catcher) believes that the biggest task Schwarber stands to face is calling games. While some aspects of game calling are instinctive, most is learned by experience, Harper relayed. It is but one more thing for the young catcher to think about, before he returns to the bigs as a catcher.
For more on Schwarber’s debut, I encourage you to check out Tommy Birch’s article at the Des Moines Register. It is full of quotes from his coaches at Iowa and other tales from the sluggers’ first game.
There’s work to be done, but Schwarber is the first to admit it, “I don’t want to be this one-dimensional player,” Schwarber told reporters, “I’m just going to try to work on everything.”
In the meantime, the bat will get a disproportionate amount of attention. After that 0-4 debut with two strikeouts, all Schwarber did yesterday was hit a walk-off double:
That looked awfully close to leaving the park, too.