The Chicago Cubs selected Indiana catcher/first baseman Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft tonight. The move seems like a strategic one as Schwarber wasn’t projected that high — although he was rising up draft boards leading into the draft. The 6’-1”, 240 pound left-handed hitter has some of the best power in the draft and is an excellent hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. Through 59 games, he is hitting .358/.464/.659 with 16 doubles, six triples, 14 home runs and 44 walks to just 30 strikeouts. He also has stolen 10 bases, showing very good athleticism for his size.
I say the move seems like a strategic one because, with the current collective bargaining agreement that puts limits on what a team can spend on its draft picks, the Cubs most likely will be able to sign Schwarber for under-slot money and save some of their bonus pool for picks later in the draft.
The way it works is each team is assigned a dollar amount based on where they finished record-wise, number of picks and how much they spent in the previous draft. The Cubs have a bonus pool of $8,352,000 to cover the top 10 rounds. The fourth overall pick was assigned a slot value of $4,621,200, leaving the organization with roughly $3.8 million left for its picks in the next nine rounds. The thinking is that they already have worked out a deal that will pay Schwarber less than slot value, allowing them to go after some high upside picks in a draft that is extremely deep in talent.
Schwarber is no slouch, however. Like I mentioned above, he is a terrific hitter and gives the Cubs something they lack in their organization — power from the left side. He is described as a leader on and off the field and fits the organization’s philosophy as far as character goes. He should rise quickly through the system due to his mature approach and, with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and others, the Cubs are assembling quite an offensive powerhouse for the future. The only knock on Schwarber is where he will play in the field. He is a catcher now, but many believe he won’t stick there. With Anthony Rizzo locked up at first base until 2020, Schwarber would be blocked there. He is athletic enough to play left field and he has the arm to hold it down. I am assuming they will run him out there as a catcher first to see if he can handle it with left field as a back-up plan.
The Cubs next pick is at 45 later tonight, and they are expected to grab a high school arm.
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