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Schwarber homers in fifth straight game

Cubs' No. 7 prospect goes yard twice in Daytona's win over Lakeland
August 24, 2014

Kyle Schwarber thinks it was a mechanical adjustment. Daytona manager Dave Keller just thinks it's a young hitter picking out better pitches. Whatever the cause, the Cubs will take more of this from their most recent first-round pick.

Schwarber -- the fourth overall pick in this year's Draft -- clobbered two homers on Sunday, giving him roundtrippers in five straight games and powering Class A Advanced Daytona to a 7-1 win over Lakeland. The Cubs' No. 7 prospect also walked and finished with three RBIs.

Schwarber has six homers during the streak, including one in both games of Saturday's doubleheader. After going yard in his second straight game on Friday, he talked about some recent mechanical adjustments he made to quiet his load and keep his head more still.

Keller hasn't noticed much difference mechanically but thinks Schwarber has been selecting better pitches to drive during the streak. The 21-year-old catcher/outfielder has done a better job picking drivable pitches and, although most of his homers have been pulled to right field, he's contributed with base hits the other way -- like a key RBI single he delivered to left-center in Saturday's nightcap.

"I know one of his best at-bats he's had -- over the last couple games, anyway -- was a two-strike, two-out RBI he got last night," Keller said. "He hit a line drive to left-center field. Anytime you have a guy that can use the whole field, you're in a really good situation because that guy gives you a chance to drive in runs."

The Indiana University product extended the streak to five games Sunday with a two-run shot in the first inning. The blast came off Flying Tigers left-hander Logan Ehlers. The left-handed-hitting Schwarber connected for his second blast, also off Ehlers, in the sixth and has hit five of his 18 Minor League homers off southpaws.

Drafted fourth overall in June, Schwarber began his career with Short-Season Boise, where he homered four times in five games before getting a promotion to Class A Kane County. He slugged four long balls and posted a 1.050 OPS in 23 Midwest League games to earn the bump to Daytona.

Overall, Schwarber is batting .354 with 18 homers in 67 Minor League games. From Keller's perspective, what's driven that success is Schwarber's mental approach and acumen, something that's allowing the power in his 6-foot, 235-pound frame to shine.

"I think one of the biggest things with Kyle is he has a good plan when he goes to the plate," Keller said. "He watches the game, watches who's pitching, watches the way they go about their pitches and pitch sequences. He has a plan on what he wants to get done when he's up there."

With just a week remaining in the Florida State League season, Daytona is pushing for a second-half division title and a playoff berth. The Cubs have won five straight to move 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Tampa in the North Division.

Billy McKinney, the Cubs' eighth-ranked prospect, was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored, boosting his average to .308 with 17 extra-base hits in 45 games since being acquired from A's as part of the trade involving Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.