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updated: 6/21/2014 12:05 AM

Cougars impressed with even-keeled Schwarber

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  • Kyle Schwarber last year's first-round draft pick of the Cubs, went 1-for-3 in his Kane County Cougars debut Thursday night.

      Kyle Schwarber last year's first-round draft pick of the Cubs, went 1-for-3 in his Kane County Cougars debut Thursday night.

 
By Evan F. Moore
Daily Herald Correspondent

Kyle Schwarber is well aware that he has a tough act to follow.

Kris Bryant, the Cubs first-round pick from last year, continues to make the adjustments needed to reach the Major Leagues. Thursday night at Triple-A Iowa, Bryant hit a home run in his debut for the Iowa Cubs.

This season's first-round pick, Schwarber wants to keep the hype surrounding him at an arm's length.

"You can't let it really affect you," Schwarber said. "You can't let it get to your head because if you do, maybe some bad things will happen."

The former Indiana Hoosier standout was a catcher for most of his college career. Thursday night, in his debut with the Kane County Cougars, he played in left field and batted third.

He quickly grasped a hard lesson.

Schwarber, in his first at-bat, found out that a ball that might have gone out at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington won't necessarily go out at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

"Welcome to Kane County," said Cougars manager Mark Johnson. "The wind was blowing in a little bit. He hit the ball well. It was a great at-bat."

It showed Johnson how impressed he was with Schwarber's plate discipline.

"To put that good a swing with two strikes and drive the ball like he did, most ballparks, that's probably gone," he said. "You earn your home runs here. That's for sure."

Schwarber went 1-for-3 in his Cougars debut. In the third, he had an RBI single, and later scored in the inning.

Curtis Haug, the team's vice president and general manager was also dazzled by what he saw from the Cougars' newest player.

"I thought it was a great debut for Kyle," Haug said. "(It was) good to see that he contributed to a Cougars win. We're happy to have Kyle here."

He is also aware that the organization's main goal is to get Kyle to the Cubs as quickly as possible.

"Whatever it takes on our end to get him to progress on the levels he needs to progress on, we'll take whatever we can get."

Schwarber did not disappoint in his brief stay in Class-A affiliate Boise. He batted .600 (12-for-20) with 4 home runs, 10 RBI, 27 total bases and a 1.350 slugging percentage in five games.

This season for the Hoosiers, Schwarber hit .366 (86-for-235) with 18 home runs and 54 RBI en route to being named first-team All-American.

Schwarber is the highest overall draft selection to play for the Cougars since Adrian Gonzalez, the first overall selection in the 2000 MLB draft.

Schwarber, a Middleton, Ohio native, grew up a fan of the Cincinnati Reds and tries to model his game after catcher Joey Votto.

"I watched Joey Votto growing up. I like to take that approach from him. He really prides himself on getting his pitch," Schwarber said.

Even Schwarber's postgame comments on his first hit with the Cougars shows he likes to stay even keel like his idol Votto.

"It's a hit. I just look at it as a hit and I move on to the next at-bat," he said. "Like I said before, you're going to go through these stretches where you see the ball really well. You got to keep grinding out at-bats."

Johnson sees the same calmness in Schwarber.

"He has a hell of an approach at the plate. He knows what he is doing," Johnson said. "He's really direct to the ball. He looks like he's very mature at the plate."

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