Ready or not, the Cubs are about to find out if Kyle Schwarber can catch in the big leagues.
With Miguel Montero headed to the disabled list, the Cubs will promote Schwarber from Triple-A Iowa, fast-tracking their top prospect to Turner Field when the second half opens on Friday against the Atlanta Braves.
Montero is scheduled to see a hand specialist on Friday and will be sidelined for at least 15 days. The two-time All-Star catcher jammed his left thumb in the second-to-last game before the All-Star break. The Cubs had ruled out a broken bone after the initial MRI.
For now, the Cubs plan to rotate Schwarber with veteran catchers David Ross and Taylor Teagarden. But the buzz will revolve around Schwarber, the Futures Game MVP and last year’s No. 4 overall pick out of Indiana University.
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This is the damage Schwarber has done through his first 147 games in the minors: .333 average, 34 homers, 102 RBI and a 1.042 OPS.
Maybe Schwarber’s left-handed bat can give a struggling lineup a lift. His presence already helped the Cubs as a designated hitter during interleague play. He went 8-for-22 (.364) with one home run and six RBI in six games last month, showing he could be a potential impact player for the stretch run.
A move to left field would have allowed Schwarber to focus on his offense, and not worry about game-calling and pitch-framing while trying to handle all the egos and information overload.
Now, in the heat of a pennant race, the Cubs should get a better idea of whether or not Schwarber can be a long-term answer behind the plate.