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updated: 6/5/2014 10:36 PM

Cubs select catcher Schwarber in draft

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  • Associated PressIndiana catcher Kyle Schwarber was drafted with the fourth overall pick by the Cubs on Thursday in the amateur draft.

      Associated PressIndiana catcher Kyle Schwarber was drafted with the fourth overall pick by the Cubs on Thursday in the amateur draft.

  • Associated PressThe United States' Kyle Schwarber (44) rounds third base heading for a run during a 2013 exhibition game against Cuba.

      Associated PressThe United States' Kyle Schwarber (44) rounds third base heading for a run during a 2013 exhibition game against Cuba.

 
 

It should have come as no surprise that the Cubs took a position player with their first pick in Thursday night's amateur draft.

With pitchers going 1-2-3, the Cubs took catcher Kyle Schwarber with the fourth pick overall, continuing the Theo Epstein-led regime's streak of taking position players to three in three years. The Cubs did take a pitcher in the second round, going for Maryland right-hander Jake Stinnet with the 45th pick overall.

Schwarber, a 6-foot, 240-pound bruiser out of Indiana University, has been talked about as a player the Cubs can sign quickly and at below the recommended "slot" of about $4.6 million. That would enable them to load up on pitchers in subsequent rounds, as they've done in the previous two drafts. .

But Cubs scouting and player-development chief Jason McLeod was hardly selling Schwarber short.

"As we looked at the talent pool this year, certainly there were some talented pitchers up there," McLeod said. "We felt Kyle was the best hitter hands down in this year's draft. He really does everything that we like from an offensive standpoint in terms of controlling the strike zone, hitting for average, hitting for power. Makeup off the charts."

McLeod went as far as to say that Schwarber was second on the Cubs' preferred list to pitcher Brady Aiken, who went No. 1 overall to the Houston Astros.

Schwarber, a 21-year-old native of Middletown, Ohio, has batted .341 with 40 home runs and 149 RBI in 180 games over three seasons at Indiana. He has walked 116 times and struck out 91, for a .437 on-base percentage. This year, he batted .358 with 14 homers.

"I kind of realized the last couple days when the area scout called and he was talking about (that) they have this huge interest in me," Schwarber said. "It's just been an awesome last couple days."

Schwarber was recruited by some colleges as a football linebacker. The Cubs like his left-handed bat and say he can remain at catcher. However, the Cubs feel he is athletic enough to play the outfield.

"We feel he is a really good, underrated athlete that can certainly moved to an outfield position at the corner," McLeod said. "His bat is obviously why we drafted him. We think he's an impact bat from the left side, certainly that we lack."

"I really have a passion for catching," Schwarber said. "But whatever the Cubs are wanting me to do is what I'll do."

Last year, the Cubs took college third baseman Kris Bryant out of San Diego, and he's currently tearing things up at Class AA Tennessee. Center fielder Albert Almora went in the first round in 2012, and the previous regime took shortstop Javier Baez with its top pick in 2011.

McLeod said he expects a quick signing of Schwarber and that Class A Boise is a possible first destination. Boise's season begins June 13, but after long college season, the Cubs will allow Schwarber to get some rest before he plays again.

"We expect him to sign really quickly," McLeod said. "Certainly you do your due diligence when you're talking about signability and getting idea of what they're looking for and what you're hopeful of getting a player signed for."

All in due time, according to Schwarber.

"Right now, I'm really embracing the moment," he said. "That's what Theo told me to do: 'Just embrace this moment, take your time. When the time's right, we'll call and figure out a day we'll sit down and talk about things."

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