The Chicago Cubs shocked many when they took Kyle Schwarber at No. 4 overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, as Schwarber was projected to be picked in the back half of the first round. However, Schwarber possesses the best college bat according to industry insiders and has plus power from the left side of the plate. If he can stick at catcher, that’s just the icing on the cake.
If Schwarber doesn’t stay at catcher he will likely move to left field with athleticism and a strong arm. Beyond having a plus hit-tool and plus power, Schwarber is also likely to sign for well below the slot value of the Cubs’ No. 4 overall pick.
The Cubs had a slot allotment of $4.6 million to spend on their first round pick, while Kyle Schwarber was likely to be selected with a pick that had an allotment from $2-3 million. What this means is that the Cubs likely came to an agreement with Schwarber ahead of time, promising him something in the range of $3 million, more than he would have received otherwise, in order to sign and save the Cubs money to spend later in the draft.
The second round of the 2014 MLB Draft should be stocked with high upside arms, whether it’s a Tommy John surgery victim such as Jeff Hoffman or Erick Fedde, or a high upside high school arm that will require an above-slot deal to sign such as Michael Kopech or J.B. Bukauskas.
Whichever arms the Cubs are interested in, they will now have more money to entice those players to forgo college and begin their pro careers due to the savings they should be left with after signing Schwarber.
Schwarber had originally been recruited to play middle linebacker by Big 10 schools and his 6-foot, 240-pound frame generates plus power, but he also maintains the athleticism to play catcher or the outfield. As a die-hard Cincinnati Reds fan, Schwarber modeled his game off of Reds superstar Joey Votto and from the left side of the plate, Schwarber should perfectly complement the Cubs’ crop of right-handed position prospects.
With the Kyle Schwarber selection, the Cubs continue to corner the market on power bats. In the 2013 draft the Cubs were able to select the best overall player at No. 2 in Kris Bryant whose prodigious power has torn apart the Southern League so far in 2014. In 2012 the Cubs were able to select another player with plus-plus power in Javier Baez. Schwarber is just the next in a long line of elite Cubs position prospects and should move quickly through the minor leagues while also providing the Cubs flexibility to sign high upside pitchers in the ensuing rounds of the draft.