The Chicago Cubs are promoting 2014 first round pick Kyle Schwarber from the Double-A Tennessee Smokies to the major league roster. This is just over one year after he was drafted out of Indiana University as the fourth-overall choice in the '14 class.
The promotion is certainly deserved from a performance standpoint. Schwarber was an exceptional hitter in college, batting .341/.437/.607 over three seasons including .358/.464/.659 his junior season. He hasn't lost a beat in pro ball, tearing up Double-A with a .320/.438/.579 through 197 at-bats this year. In addition to his power and batting average production, Schwarber has superb plate discipline and a low strikeout rate, posting a 42/49 BB/K this year.
Between this year and last summer, Schwarber has hit a composite .333/.432/.610 in pro ball, with 31 homers, 81 walks, and 106 strikeouts in 459 at-bats.
There shouldn't be any question about Schwarber's bat: it is totally legitimate. The uncertainty here is defense. The Cubs are using him as a catcher this year with mixed results; he's thrown out 21 percent of runners and his passed ball and error rates are rather high, while his physical tools rate as marginal for the position. He played mostly left field after being drafted last summer and some scouts see him as a first baseman in the long run.
Right now the positional issue isn't critical: he's expected to be the designated hitter in Chicago's upcoming series against the Minnesota Twins. After that he will go back to the minors, probably Triple-A Iowa, for more experience and defensive refinement.