Kyle Schwarber: Early 2016 Projection

The Chicago Cubs have a playoff team for years to come. Who thought you’d be reading that in 2015? They have a veteran presence in the lineup, an ace in the making and strong leadership in the front office. Throughout the season, the team kept calling up prospect after prospect. And they’ve all played well. We know how most of them will pan out, so let’s take a look at one in particular. Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber. He’s been great this year, but will it carry over to 2016?

Schwarber didn’t spend much time in the minor leagues before getting the call. He played a total of 147 games between Low-A, A, High-A, and Double-A. In his first year in the minors, he hit 18 home runs, 53 RBI, 57:39 K:BB ratio with a .344 batting average. He is strictly a contact and power guy as the speed wasn’t too evident, just five stolen bases.

Kyle Schwarber got the call on June 16. In his third game he hit a two-run home run. He was used as a catche in the first game and a DH in the next five. After those games, he was sent down to Triple-A. After 20 games, he was called back up to the majors due to an injury to catcher Miguel Montero.

He spent 12 of the next 14 games started behind the plate. Once Montero was healthy, Schwarber moved to left field and gained OF eligibility. With him constantly playing left field, fantasy owners were questioning if he would reach the minimum games required to carry catcher eligibility over into 2016. 

Kyle Schwarber currently sits at 18 games played at catcher. Standard ESPN leagues require at least 20 games at a single position to remain eligible at that position. The Cubs have 33 games remaining, all but one against National League teams. The one is a make-up game from May 30 against the Kansas City Royals. You would hope Schwarber would play catcher in at least two of those games.

Let’s assume Kyle Schwarber reaches 20 games at catcher. Heading into the 2016 season, he is the clear-cut No. 2 catcher. We know who the obvious No. 1 guy is. He is better than Jonathan Lucroy and Yan Gomes, both looked at as young upstarts at catcher. Brian McCann is consistent, but older. Evan Gattis hasn’t played an inning at catcher. I could keep going, but it doesn’t get better from here.

I won’t project his full stat line for 2016, but I will predict the major stats. He will play 150 games, hit 35 home runs and 92 RBI with a .268 batting average. When drafting next season, you shouldn’t worry if you miss out on Buster Posey because Kyle Schwarber will be right there waiting for you.

However, what happens if he doesn’t reach 20 games as catcher? He would be outfield-eligible only. While, being a catcher puts him in the top-three of that position, he would be a top-20 outfielder. I would rank him in the A.J PollockNelson Cruz group of outfielders.

Regardless, Kyle Schwarber is a top-50 player as we prepare for the 2016 season. Catcher eligibility would push him up the rankings, but being OF-only won’t hurt his value.