MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs spring instructor and ESPN baseball analyst Rick Sutcliffe says there’s no doubting that 2014 top draft pick, Kyle Schwarber, will be a catcher in the majors someday.
“He’s going to catch,” Sutcliffe said on Sunday. “The most important thing to me is to find a guy behind the plate that cares. There’s no one in camp that cares more about helping his pitcher get deep into a game than Kyle Schwarber.”
The Cubs were unsure if Schwarber would remain behind the plate after drafting him No. 4 overall out of Indiana last summer. The thinking was perhaps his bat was too good to delay his ascension by taking extra time learning the complex craft of catching. But after watching him through the Fall Instructional League they decided he has the skills to make it through the system and to the majors as a catcher.
His bat is definitely less of a concern as he combined to hit 18 home runs at three different levels of pro ball last year before hitting his grand slam on Thursday. A left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing catcher who can hit is a major luxury for a team that can find one. There aren’t many of them out there.
In camp, Schwarber has several coaches working with him as well as his manager, who’s a former catcher himself.
“I’ll watch while they’re coaching and then I’ll make suggestions,” Joe Maddon said.
Sutcliffe is high on Schwarber as much for his make-up as he is for his baseball skills. Sutcliffe was in uniform in the dugout for the Cubs when Schwarber hit a grand slam in his first spring at-bat on Thursday. It prompted an in-game tweet.
#Cubs Kyle Schwarber on 1st AB of spring hits Grand slam HR! On his birthday
— Rick Sutcliffe (@Sut_ESPN) March 5, 2015
Sutcliffe said the Cubs gave Schwarber the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout. Schwarber is 1-for-6 so far in spring games.