Just hours before the Boise Hawks arrived at Memorial Stadium Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs signed their first-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber agreed to a bonus of $3.125 million, and reported immediately to Boise, where he'll start the season.
Schwarber, a 6'0'', 240-lb. catcher, hit .358 with 14 home runs as a junior at Indiana University.
"It was a lot of emotion, going up and down. Going from losing the regional on a walk-off home run to being drafted fourth overall," explained Schwarber. "I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I'm ready to get things going."
It is rare for a first-round pick to start the season in Boise. The Cubs' top selection in 2013, Kris Bryant, didn't debut in a Hawks' uniform until late July.
"It has been a whirlwind week for him, and we know that," detailed Hawks manager, Gary Van Tol. "We're not going to put any added pressure on him. There's a good chance he'll be in the lineup Friday night, so we'll throw him in there and just see what he can do."
Schwarber's signing isn't great news for everyone in the organization. Case in point- fellow catcher, Justin Marra. Marra is back in Boise for a third stint, and he'll be competing for playing time with Schwarber and Venezuelan prospect, Mark Malave. Justin spent all of last year with the Hawks, hitting .224 with six home runs and 16 RBI. Although staying in short-A isn't what he planned, Marra says he likes his teammates and the city of Boise.
"It's a good vibe everywhere. The coaches are real nice, they're easy to talk to, and know what they're talking about," said Marra. "Whatever Gary has got for me to do, I'm happy to do whatever I can to help the team win."
"I put a little more pressure on those guys to lead these younger guys, especially coming out of the draft, who are here to take their jobs," said Van Tol. "That's part of professional baseball, and we remind them of that every day. If they can't handle it, they're in the wrong business. So, for a guy like Marra- he knows his place. Everyone of these kids is going to get an opportunity, some more than others, but it's what they do with that opportunity."