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FSL notes: Schwarber thrilled to be a Cub
Fast-climbing Daytona slugger enamored with Wrigley Field, fans
07/30/2014 10:00 AM ET
Kyle Schwarber is hitting .358 with nine homers in 41 games across three levels this season. (Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs)

Kyle Schwarber grew up in Southwest Ohio as a Cincinnati Reds fan, but it took just one trip to Wrigley Field for the former University of Indiana standout to change where he hoped to eventually play.

"It was such a cool place," he said. "I fell in love with it."

That visit was with Team USA in the summer of 2013, and the Chicago Cubs made Schwarber's wishes come true when they took him with the fourth overall pick in this June's Draft.

"I couldn't believe how perfectly it worked out," the powerful left-handed hitter said.

Projected by most to go later in the first round, Schwarber was more than willing to accept a less-than-slot bonus of $3,125,000 to sign quickly with his team of choice.

"I wanted to be a Cub and I wanted to get started," he said. "I was ready to do whatever it took. I knew it was the place for me."

So far, the pairing looks like a perfect match.

Schwarber has cooled off some since his promotion to Class A Advanced Daytona, but his early numbers are still ultra-impressive.

The 21-year-old has a .358 average with nine homers and 33 RBIs after his first 41 Minor League games across three levels with a .446 on-base percentage and .615 slugging mark.

"It's been a whirlwind," he said of his past eight weeks.

Schwarber was drafted just a few days after Indiana was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Stanford on a walk-off homer, and a week later he began his professional career with Boise of the Class A Short Season Northwest League.

He earned a quick promotion after hitting .600 with four homers in five games, then terrorized the Class A Midwest League by batting .361 with four homers in 23 games for Kane County.

The early numbers aren't as gaudy with Daytona, but he had a .368 on-base percentage and eight RBIs after his first 13 games.

The Cubs rated Schwarber as the best hitter in the Draft, and he's done nothing to make them feel otherwise. Already, Schwarber is ranked No. 79 among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects, though that makes him just No. 8 in a stacked Cubs farm system.

"It's exciting to think about what could be ahead," he said.

Schwarber's own career path, though, isn't clear defensively. A catcher at Indiana, he's been playing a majority of his games in left field for Daytona.

"I'm passionate about catching," Schwarber said. "I've worked hard at it, but I'm for whatever is best for the Cubs."

Schwarber grew up in Middletown, Ohio -- the hometown of Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas -- and was an All-State middle linebacker in high school. His sport of choice, though, has always been baseball.

"I had a lot more scholarship offers for football," said Schwarber, listed at six feet, 235 pounds. "I was under-recruited for baseball."

But Schwarber, not drafted and relatively unheralded out of high school, helped lead Indiana to its first outright Big Ten championship in 81 years and a spot in the 2013 College World Series. It was after Schwarber slugged a school-record 18 homers that season that he made it to Wrigley Field with Team USA.

"We got to take batting practice and then watched the Cubs play the Cardinals," he said. "It was unbelievable. The Cubs fans were amazing. They were so passionate, even though the Cubs haven't won much lately. It makes you really want to help change things for them. They deserve it."

So what about his old allegiance to Cincinnati's team?

"I used to be a Reds fan," he said. "Now I'm only a Cubs fan."

In brief

Nearly flawless: Brevard County right-hander Tyler Wagner lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.53 after allowing two hits and an unearned run over six innings in a victory against Jupiter on July 28. Milwaukee's No. 16 prospect has won his last six decisions and, with a 10-4 record, is just one win behind Bradenton's Chad Kuhl (11-5) for that league lead. Wagner, 23, has allowed two earned runs in 47 1/3 innings over his past seven starts. He was a fourth-round choice by the Brewers in the 2012 Draft out of the University of Utah.

On a roll: Fort Myers left-hander Brett Lee gave up three hits over seven scoreless innings against Clearwater on July 28, lowering his ERA to 0.96 over his past 10 games. The victory improved his record to 8-2 and his season ERA to 1.75. Lee, who spent time on the disabled list, hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in a game since April. The 23-year-old was a 10th-round pick in the 2011 Draft by Minnesota.

Staying hot: Nathan Orf just keeps getting on base at the top of the Brevard County lineup. The 5-foot-9 outfielder was hitting .372 after his first 33 games of the second half and had a .421 on-base percentage during that time. Orf, 24, is hitting .415 with a .479 on-base mark in his past 10 games. Overall, he has a .315 average and a .413 on-base percentage. Orf was not drafted out of Baylor University and signed with Milwaukee as a free agent last year.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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