So far, the transition to tougher competition, the distance from his family and the adjustments to new teams have not affected Kyle Schwarber. The No. 4 overall pick in this month's Draft is eight days into his professional career and already has homered at two different levels.
"It's been great," Schwarber said after belting a homer and a double in his second Midwest League game to help Class A Kane County defeat visiting Cedar Rapids, 6-4, on Friday night.
"It hasn't been too hard because the host families I've been with have been great. Players on both teams are great and coaches are great as well -- they have taken me in as well. It could've been hard, but they've really helped me," the 21-year-old catcher said. "It's been more about trying to gel with the guys than with the league, [and] they're great. They kind of take me in as their own, joking around with me, showing me pointers."
Assigned to short-season Boise after leaving Indiana University, Schwarber tore up the Northwest League with a .600 average, four homers and 10 RBIs in five games. Now that he's in the Midwest League, the Ohio native looks forward to having his family in the crowd during games and at the dinner table afterwards.
After being named the best catcher in the country by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association last year and then going to the Cubs early in this year's Draft, Schwarber has found that it's his family and friends who keep him grounded.
"You have to remember where you came from. I didn't come from the biggest town and you have to work for everything you get there and I was lucky to get around a good group of friends in high school and good teammates in college," he said. "My parents kept me grounded. It was just the way I was raised, nothing is too good. You just have to play baseball, the game you love and stay level."
Schwarber said he may only get one good pitch to hit in each at-bat, so he's working to take advantage of that perfect offering. Swinging at the right pitch is what led to his fifth long ball of his fledgling career Friday.
The left-handed hitter knows he can't post a composite .565/.593/1.217 slash line all season.
"Everyone has ups and everyone has downs, everyone can have streaks. I realize that there's going to be some point in time when baseball is going to bite you in the butt, and you just have to grind through the game and grind through the at-bats to get results," he added. "Good things will happen when you work hard."
A night after delivering an RBI single in three trips to the plate in his Kane County debut, Schwarber doubled and scored in the bottom of the first to get the Cougars within 2-1. He walked in the third, then led off the fifth with a blast over the center-field fence to give Kane County a 4-2 lead.
Cubs 16th-ranked prospect Jacob Hannemann belted his fourth homer of the season, while No. 9 prospect Jeimer Candelario contributed a two-run double in his second game since returning from Class A Advanced Daytona.
Corbin Hoffner (1-1) hurled 2 2/3 scoreless frames to pick up his first win in eight relief appearances and Tyler Bremer pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his ninth save.
Cedar Rapids reliever Brandon Bixler (4-4) was tagged for two runs on three hits over two frames.