Double-A Tennessee split a doubleheader Sunday with Jackson. The Smokies beat the Generals in the first game 5-0 behind RHP Frank Batista’s complete game shutout. The Smokies were blanked for eight innings in game two and lost 1-0.
Kyle Schwarber caught Batista’s shutout. Schwarber went 2-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored in game one. Schwarber hit home runs in back-to-back at bats, a solo homer in the third and a two-run shot in the fourth down the line in right that just stayed inside the foul pole.
Schwarber was used as the designated hitter in the second game. Schwarber was 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout.
Entering play Monday, Kyle Schwarber is batting .333/.448/.657 (36-for-108) with six doubles, a triple and nine home runs for a 1.105 OPS. Schwarber has almost as many walks (24) as strikeouts (29) in 33 games. Schwarber has hit four of his nine home runs in the last six games he has played in … and five of his last nine hits have gone for extra bases (four homers, one double). Sunday was the fourth time Schwarber went deep twice in the same game. Schwarber had multi-homer games for Short-Season Boise (June 17), Low-A Kane County (June 28) and High-A Daytona (Aug. 24) last season.
Kyle Schwarber is tied for the Southern League led in home runs (9) with Chattanooga’s Brett Walker. And Schwarber is tied for third in the minors in longballs behind Jon Singleton (12), Preston Tucker (10) and Adam Duvall (10). Schwarber is tied with Oakland’s Stephen Vogt for the most home runs by a catcher in professional baseball.
Schwarber is allocating as much time as possible working on his defense. Schwarber and the Cubs’ front office are committed to him being a catcher and he spent a majority of his off-season working on his defense. The front office is pleased with the improvements Schwarber has made as a receiver. The Cubs think he will be a big league catcher, but many outside of the organization are not sure if he will be able to stick behind the plate.
According to a report from MiLB.com, Schwarber the defensive side of his game is improving. And Schwarber is making sure he takes the time to work on his defense, which is not easy to do during the season.
“It’s hard. You have to put the time in on your own to work on things,” Schwarber said to Ashley Marshall. “When you’re stepping on the field every day, you might feel a little sore and you might not always feel good about your game, but that’s when you still have to go and put the work in both defensively and offensively. You really have to find time for the defensive things, because there are not many times set aside just for that.”
Kyle Schwarber knows how much defense impacts a game and he is pushing himself every day to get better behind the plate. Offensively, Schwarber still needs at bats and time in Triple-A at some point. He was in college this time last year. Schwarber’s development behind the plate will determine when the front office promotes him to the next level.