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Cougars' Den: Schwarber takes numbers games from Cougars to FSL

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 10:52 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014 11:03 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner file photo - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
The Cubs promoted first-round draft pick Kyle Schwarber (right) from the Class-A Cougars to Advanced-A Daytona Monday.

Everyone knows OBP, or on-base percentage, as one of baseball's telltale offensive statistics.

In the six weeks since the Cubs drafted him, catcher-outfielder Kyle Schwarber has made headway toward introducing a similar-sounding cousin.

What do you figure is the staying power of GBP, or games between promotions?

Schwarber carried an average of 14 GBP when the Cubs sent him from the Class-A Cougars to Advanced-A Daytona Monday night. His stint in 23 games with Kane County included a .361 batting average, four home runs and 15 RBIs. Do the math, and that means he played five games at Short-A Boise, where he batted .600 while launching four home runs with 10 RBIs.

Schwarber's stay in Daytona figures to be his longest yet, but that surely won't keep fans from counting.

When Schwarber tweeted "Thank you to the @KCCougars players, coaches and fans for being great to me in my stay here at Kane County! #cougs" a few hours after Monday's matinee against Beloit, the context of promotion was implied, but still uncertain.

After all, he had tweeted "Thank you to @hamiltonwatch for the awesome watch! #legit!" earlier that night. Couldn't this just be a nice midwestern young man living up to the reputation his college coach, Tracy Smith, observed at Indiana for three seasons?

"You are who you are," Smith said after last month's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. "I think he was certainly rewarded for that, for being good person, not just a good baseball player.

"I can't tell you how many emails I would get from a random person who said Kyle took the time to talk with my son or sign an autograph. He's a down-to-earth, down-to-earth guy."

Cougars fans saw some of that character in pre-game autograph sessions or chance community encounters.

Of course, Schwarber made it easy to follow along no matter his comportment by batting .380 with two home runs, seven RBIs and a 1.035 OPS in 15 home games.

Smith since has been on the move himself, leaving his home state university after nearly a decade to take the job at Arizona State.

Before he left, he still had time to shake his head about how some in baseball reacted to the Cubs taking Schwarber with the fourth overall pick. While his offensive talents were considered first-round worthy, Schwarber's defensive ambiguity raised several eyebrows.

Schwarber made it clear he wants to catch above all but will play wherever the organization puts him. Smith was equally adamant about his former player's ceiling.

"I think it was funny listening to a lot of the talking heads and even people in the Chicago area wondering who this guy is and questioning the Chicago Cubs for taking this kid called Kyle Schwarber," Smith said. "I've been quietly sitting back and laughing. That's who he is. He's a tremendous hitter and a talented baseball player."

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

INSIDE THE COUGARS DEN

'Grindy' Brown gets to work

Outfielder Kevin Brown describes himself as "definitely a northeast grinder kind of guy," a nod both to his plate approach and his Northborough, Massachusetts, upbringing.

Brown rooted for the Boston Red Sox as a child – "If you didn't, it was a tough life growing up for you there," he said – which means he wasn't particularly keen on his own name at one point.

Veteran right-hander Kevin Brown, who closed his career with the nemesis New York Yankees from 2004-05, proved more heady than the future minor leaguer when he injured his non-pitching hand punching a clubhouse wall nearly 10 years ago.

"I mean, it was tough when he punched that wall. The wall always wins," the Cougars' Brown said. "But, you know, I won't be punching any walls anytime soon."

Patrolling the grass in front of outfield walls is safer and suits Brown, a Bryant (R.I.) Colleg product best.

"He's just stepped right in," manager Mark Johnson said. "He's a real grindy kind of guy that has real good at-bats, an older college kid that plays real hard and is a great teammate."

Noteworthy

The Cougars have not lost a home series in 2014, winning 14 of 15. The club split a four-game series against Quad Cities from May 15 to 18. Seven home series remain: two against Quad Cities and one each against South Bend, West Michigan, Burlington, Clinton and Peoria. ... Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. game against South Bend marks the penultimate "Bark in the Park" night of the season. Another is scheduled for Aug. 13 against Quad Cities.

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

LEADERS IN THE KANE COUNTY COUGARS CLUBHOUSE (before Friday's game)

BATTING AVERAGE Cael Brockmeyer, .296 Will Remillard, .291 Ben Carhart, .282

HOME RUNS Jacob Rogers, 9 Jake Hannemann, 6 Yasiel Balaguert, 6

RUNS BATTED IN Yasiel Balaguert, 46 Jake Hannemann, 39 Jacob Rogers, 38

STOLEN BASES Jake Hannemann, 30 Trey Martin, 18 Carlos Penalver, 16

ERA James Pugliese, 1.22 Jose Arias, 2.35 Duane Underwood, 2.36

WINS Daury Torrez, 9 Paul Blackburn, 8 Juan Paniagua, 6

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