Whether it’s the way they couch their carefully-crafted words or the manner in which they move players along, the Cubs brass has been nothing if not understated. So it was fitting that as the Blackhawks were working to solidifying a dynasty, the Cubs snuck in the announcement that they were taking another step toward building one of their own.
Actually, the move was so far under the radar that it wasn’t even the team that announced it first:
Congrats to my bash brother @kschwarb12 on the call to the show. Gonna miss my boy but couldn’t be more happy for a better dude. Go ball out
— Daniel Vogelbach (@DanielVogelbach) June 16, 2015
The various beat writers jumped all over it as details of the promotion began to emerge:
Source confirms @kschwarb12 will be with the Cubs for 6 days to DH, etc. Then to Triple-A.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 16, 2015
On a personal note, I’m incredibly excited about this because I’ll be at the game in Cleveland on Wednesday. While it’s entirely possible that Schwarber will make his debut Tuesday, his presence in the lineup as DH alongside Bryant and Russell is going to make for a better time than most have when passing through the Mistake on the Lake.
Back in April, I had predicted that Schwarber would indeed be the next call-up, though the circumstances aren’t necessarily what I had expected. I fully believe that I’d have been writing about Javy Baez if he had not broken his finger recently, but he did and the Cubs need a DH for the upcoming AL games.
And the short stint tells me that the Cubs are still committed to letting their top draft pick in 2014 develop as a catcher. That said, I’ll take just a moment to once again bang out the drum beat to which I’ve been marching for the last year now:
So does that mean the organization is willing to scrap the work Schwarber has put in to be a catcher? Hardly. I still maintain what I’ve been saying from the time they drafted him, which is that he’s got an opportunity to be Evan Gattis 2.0, which is to say a multi-positional masher but with more skill behind the plate and a better approach at it.
As ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported, Theo Epstein’s comments on the promotion sure seem to back what some of us have been thinking.
“His next stop is to continue his development as a catcher at Triple-A. First, however, he is going to join the major league team for six days to contribute as a designated hitter, as a bat off the bench and as a third catcher. He will also use the time in the big leagues to experience firsthand all that goes into being a major league catcher. Regardless of how this week goes, Kyle will head to Triple-A after Sunday’s game.”
Not a whole lot of couching there, huh? I love this. It’s like an appetizer, both for the fans and for Schwarber. Like the patrons of Jurassic World, we’ve all got an insatiable appetite for new prospects an with this move, Epstein and Co. are delivering a glimpse of a brand new attraction.
As for Schwarber, this is a carrot. It’s a small reward for his great work in the minors, but it’s also a bit of a litmus test for just what a grind it will be to play behind the plate at the big league level. And the set schedule, not to mention the presence of several other rookie phenoms, reduces the pressure that would normally accompany a debut.
This is getting bumped up to first class for the first, shorter leg of a cross-country flight and then moving back to coach for the longer jaunt. I don’t know Schwarber personally, but I know enough about him to be confident that this will drive him more than ever to want to get back. I feel sorry for the pitchers in the PCL who will have to face him starting next week. RIP your stat lines, guys.
And looking at MLB as a whole, this move is just the latest in a litany of promotions for super-studs, from Joc Pederson to Noah Syndergaard to Joey Gallo, Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, and Francisco Lindor. Oh, and then you’ve got the kids playing in the Cubs’ infield. What a fun time to be a baseball fan in general.
But the best part? This isn’t some trumped-up misdirection play aimed at taking focus on the Cubs’ poor performance. Coming off of consecutive walk-offs to take 3 of 4 from the Reds, the Cubs are 7 games over .500, their best mark of the season. This is absolutely a measure-twice-cut-once step in a plan — The Plan — that is rounding into form before our eyes.
So if you’re still clenching up and waiting for the other cleat to drop, I suggest you go ahead and exhale. It’s time to lace those things up and get to running.