Cubs System Sonogram Slots Kyle Schwarber Second

Can Schwarber hang on as a catcher? - USA TODAY Sports

The Zygote 50 has placed recent Cubs draft pick Kyle Schwarber second among hitters. Why?

It's getting to be that time of the year when my writing on prospects might be getting news readers. Parents, siblings, school buddies, former team mates, or any of a number of different reasons could send people looking to new places to read up on recent Cubs draft picks. That will send them to any number of Cubs blogs trying to find apt  and new commentary on recent additions to the Cubs family. If I just described you, I hope you take some time to read my commentary, and feel free to respond, as all insightful commentary on any Cubs prospect is in play in my articles.

However, if you're interested in performing a literary trashing of a player's livelihood, save it for elsewhere. If you think a pitcher has been a bit wild with his off-speed stuff, that's fine. If you think there is too much swing and miss in a hitter's game, that applies. However, if it makes your day more fulfilled by saying "He sucks," you can take your articulation elsewhere. My articles, and the ensuing commentary, should be family-friendly. If you have something uncomplimentary to say about a player's performance, put it tactfully. Nobody wants to hear a friend or family member spoken about disparagingly.

That's what other blogs are for. Or something.

Before I comment on 2014 fourth overall pick in the draft Kyle Schwarber, I should note what The Zygote 50 is about. It's my own little rating system on Cubs prospect, based on their likelihood to reach 3000 at-bats (hitters), 1000 innings (starting pitchers), or 300 innings (relievers). I have reasons for doing it that way, mostly to eliminate my ability to confuse people with being vague about the list' purpose.

i have a question for you, that ends up being a bit of a tell about what I'm thinking. Since Carlton Fisk left Boston on a contractual technicality, who have been the two best catchers the Red Sox have had? I'll get back to that later. However, people familiar with the prospect list may be intrigued that Schwarber is ranked over Javier Baez and Albert Almora. Both have been well-respected on prospect lists, but I think the catcher from Indiana University is more likely to have a 3000 at-bat career.

Why?

One of the main questions about Schwarber is where he will play defensively. He is listed as a catcher, but there are valid concerns if he can stay there. He played some left field in Bloomington, but isn't a purist's vision of a corner outfielder. He could play first base, but Anthony Rizzo has that post sort of tied down now. So, where will he play for his 3000 at-bats?

I have a number of answers, but the most direct one goes back to my earlier question. From my memory, which involved no research at all, I came up with two big offensive minded catchers you may have heard of: Rich Gedman and Jason Varitek. While reading up on the Red Sox isn't how I usually while away the hours, I don't ever remember journalists, even the one from Bristol who are oh-so-reticent about talking about the Sawks, waxing nostalgic about Varitek's defense. He was a hitter that called a good game. And occasionally threw out a baserunner. And dug pitches out of the dirt.

Neither Varitek nor Gedman were Tony Pena or Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate. They didn't hurt you much with defense, and provided most of their value from their hitting. If Schwarber sticks at catcher, that's what I'd expect. Even if he isn't Varitek or Gedman good, he might be a version of Cubs 2013 backup Dioner Navarro. When he wasn't hitting far better than expected, Navarro wasn't much behind the plate. Despite his defense, the Cubs might have preferred he stick around. Except he wanted a starting gig. With Schwarber, the Cubs figure to hold his rights, and at a reasonable rate, for much of a decade. He will be able to learn what he can, and stick if he's able.

There is much more to be written on the topic. And we plan to cover it here.

For the fans who doubt his ability to call a game and block pitches in the dirt, a few other options are available. While defense does tend to appear a priority with the current front office, Schwarber could be an adequate left fielder, or somewhere near it. If he has a lousy arm (which he may or may not), teams may run on him. However, he wouldn't be the first left fielder that aggressive running teams have taken advantage of.

If Schwarber hits, the Cubs will find a spot for him. If Major League Baseball opts for the designated hitter in the NL (which I expect rather soon), Schwarber's defense becomes less of a problem. And if the DH isn't coming, Schwarber figures to hit his way into some sort of a starting role. Or, at least, the strong side of a platoon. If Schwarber hits, he'll get his 3000 at-bats. I expect he will hit. Even if for another organization.

***

For the rest of the list, I'm reminded why I don't like to shuffle it often. Daytona (High-A) catcher Willson Contreras had been in a horrific slump. Until he recently snapped out of it over about 20 games or so. I could have shifted Contreras down, and re-shuffled him back up. Or, I could leave him where he was. The same happened on the pitching side with Juan Paniagua, who started the season in a horrble funk. His last four starts, though, have been very solid. Which leaves him where he was in the first place, give or take.

As usual, your questions are welcomed. As long as they are properly respectful. :)

A standard sonogram will return early next week.

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