Seeing Chicago Cubs prospects high up on various lists is a gratifying thing for reasons both legitimate (future value, assets, enjoyable baseball to watch) and vainglorious (aw, yeah, look at the Cubs! Prospects, baby!).
But it is particularly gratifying to see last year’s first round pick, Kyle Schwarber, a guy so many said would never be a catcher, now showing up on lists like this. According to the MLB Pipeline crew, Schwarber is the third best catching prospect in all of baseball, behind only Red Sox backstop Blake Swihart and long-time Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro, and one spot ahead of much ballyhooed Padres prospect Austin Hedges.
This is very high praise for Schwarber, and a nice nod to the possibility that he could stick behind the plate – a position at which he improved dramatically last year, and a position that the Cubs will give him a shot to play in the minors this season.
To be sure, Schwarber’s placement on the list is tied mostly to his very advanced, very high upside bat, says the Pipeline crew: “Schwarber’s strength, bat speed, pitch recognition and strike-zone management give him the highest offensive ceiling of any catcher on this list, though he’s also the least likely among them to stay behind the plate.”
I think that’s fair. But the good news is that Schwarber’s bat should play anywhere, and it will be very exciting to see any additional strides he makes behind the plate in 2015, likely starting out at AA.