Going, going, gone: Hawks' Schwarber called up after five games

Hawks slugger hits two more HRs in day-game victory; promoted after game

tphibbs@idahostatesman.comJune 18, 2014 

  • Hawks after their first five games

    • 4-1, tied for best record in the South Division of the Northwest League

    • Runs scored: 40 (Vancouver is No. 2 in the NWL with 32)

    • Team batting average: .322 (Spokane No. 2 at .288)

    • Home runs: Eight (Spokane, Hillsboro No. 2 with three each)[0x0b]

    Schwarber after his first five games

    • Hitting .600 (12-of-20)

    • Home runs: Four (no other team in the NWL has more than three)

    • RBIs: 10 (No. 1 in the NWL)

    • Runs scored: 7 (No. 1 in the NWL)

    • Has at least one single, double, triple and home run[0x0b]

    Hawks stats without Schwarber

    • RBIs: 26 (Spokane No. 2 in NWL with 22)

    • Runs scored: 30 (Vancouver is No. 1 in the NWL with 32)

    • Home runs: Four (Spokane, Hillsboro No. 2 with three)

    • Team batting average: .286 (Spokane No. 1 at .288)

    * Stats are through Tuesday's games

Speculation of Kyle Schwarber's imminent minor-league promotion was the demanding topic after Boise's five-game series against Tri-City on Tuesday.

Wonder no more.

The Hawks catcher/outfielder - the fourth overall pick by the Chicago Cubs in this month's MLB Draft - blasted his third and fourth home runs of the season in a 12-3 victory over the Dust Devils at Memorial Stadium.

After the game, he feasted on spaghetti with teammates and jumped on a bus headed to Eugene, Ore., for an eight-game road swing starting Wednesday night.

He did a quick radio interview from the bus - then was pulled off. He's headed to long-season Class-A Kane County in Illinois, about 50 miles from Wrigley Field. Schwarber is expected to make his debut with the Cougars on Thursday night.

Boise manager Gary Van Tol said the bus erupted in a roar when the news was announced.

"Guys were rippin' him, giving him a bad time and high-fiving him," Van Tol said. "Of course, he was at the back of the bus - that was perfect. It was fun while it lasted.

"We got the news and luckily we weren't on the road and we were able to take him off the bus. Things go fast in this business; you never know when they're going to come. As a manager, it's always great when you get the news that one of our players has been promoted instead of the other news, which no player wants to hear."

The Indiana University product homered in his professional debut Friday, and now has four in the first five games of the season. His final Boise stats: 12-for-20 (.600) with 10 RBIs and seven runs scored.

"I'm seeing the ball well, and I've just got to continue this," Schwarber said.

Dating to 2008, Chicago's first overall selection averaged 13.3 games in Boise. Schwarber is the 10th consecutive first pick by the Cubs to develop in Boise, and his short-lived stint ranks among the most successful in franchise history.

Daniel Vogelbach went 8-for-19 with six homers and 13 RBIs in five games in 2012, and Tyler Colvin produced six home runs and 14 RBIs while going 6-for-19 in five games in 2006.

So far, the Cubs' signing investment of $3.125 million is paying off.

"It's a tribute to him, being the fourth pick overall. To sign and get here straight from Chicago really says a lot about him as a person," Van Told said. "He could have waited to the deadline and asked for more money, but he's a ballplayer. He wants to play."

Comparisons to Kris Bryant's numbers have already surfaced. The second overall selection last season has 131 hits, 34 doubles, 31 home runs and 90 RBIs in 104 minor-league games. Unlike Schwarber, Bryant joined the Hawks later in the season, playing 18 games before receiving a promotion with 23 hits, eight doubles, four homers and 16 RBIs.

Schwarber's defensive future remains unknown. Tri-City threatened to steal second without concern after Schwarber tossed errant throws at catcher in the first two games.

He started in left field the past two games, which could be a permanent switch as he progress through the farm system. Despite his larger stature (6-0, 235 pounds), Schwarber showcased his deceptive speed by catching shots in the gap.

"I feel comfortable out there, I played some out there in college. We'll see where it goes," Schwarber said. "I like catching. I love it. I've done it all my life. I started playing outfield when I was in college. I feel comfortable with both, so whatever they want me to do."

Filling the void left by Schwarber's departure is next on the agenda.

"I made an announcement on the bus that I was looking for a three-hole hitter for tomorrow, and a bunch of pitchers raised their hands," Van Tol joked. "We have a few good options. (Jeffrey) Baez might be an option, (catcher Justin) Marra has been swinging the bat pretty good the last few days. Those are two names."

BOISE 12, TRI-CITY 3

The Hawks capped their opening five-game series with another win against the Dust Devils on Tuesday. Boise's 4-1 start is its best since the 2003 season.​

The Hawks hit five solo homers, marking the first time since 2009 a Northwest League team accomplished the feat. Baez, who impressed in the leadoff position throughout the series, Danny Canela and Marra joined Schwarber with home runs.

Trevor Graham notched the win on the dirt, striking out a career-high seven batters in five innings.

Boise now plays three games in Eugene and five in Spokane before returning to Boise on June 26.

"We've got a big test coming up with these games in Eugene," Van Tol said. "They're going to open up at home tomorrow night. The place, I'm sure, is going to be sold out. They draw very well, and it's very loud and electric. I'm looking forward for these guys to get on the bus to test what the Northwest League is all about."

MIRRORING CHICAGO

The Cubs mandated three getaway games for the Hawks this season in an attempt to equip players for conditions in Chicago.

The Cubs are the only major league team to play a majority of their home games during the day, which often requires an acclimation period for players to feel comfortable. The first day example for Boise, obviously, was successful.

"We've had a lot of early work, and during a five-game series, a lot of these guys are arriving at noon for a 7:15 game," Van Tol said. "We gave 'em a blow this morning and went through a relaxed routine in the cages so guys could get their swings in.

"The pitchers did their work and stayed on schedule. It might have been good to have this short turnaround with the disappointing loss (Monday) night, so they didn't have a lot of time to think about it."

Tri-City won 4-3 in 10 innings on Monday.

The official attendance Tuesday was announced at 1,462. The previous four nights averaged 2,560, but that number is skewed by large opening night and weekend numbers. Tuesday rivaled Monday night's announcement of 1,887.

Trevor Phibbs: 377-6424;Twitter: @IDS_Phibbs

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