MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – Three years ago, Kyle Schwarber was hitting long home runs at Princeton and Sycamore and other local high school fields and terrorizing pitchers in the Greater Miami Conference.
If the Chicago Cubs are right, he'll be doing that in Wrigley Field three years hence – maybe sooner.
The Cubs drafted the former Middletown High star with the fourth pick in the MLB Draft Thursday night. Schwarber, a catcher/outfielder at Indiana University, was the first non-pitcher selected.
“We felt Kyle was the best hitter -- hands down -- in this year’s draft,” Cubs director of scouting Jason McLeod said. “His bat is obviously why we drafted him.”
Schwarber, a left-handed swinger, hit 18 home runs for the Hoosiers as a sophomore in 2013 and 14 this season, when pitchers smartened up and walked him 44 times. He hit .358 with an on-base percentage of .464 and a slugging percentage of .659.
"He displays what we look for in patience and power at the plate," McLeod said. "He is a high-character guy we think teammates will rally around.”
The Cubs expect to develop Schwarber as a corner outfielder rather than a catcher, even though he threw out 16 of 43 runners this past season.
Schwarber is one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, presented to the top Division I catcher. The others are Mississippi’s Will Allen and Kennesaw State’s Max Pentecost. The winner will be announced June 26.
Schwarber was at Weatherwax Golf Course in Middletown with friends and family Thursday when he got the news.
“Right now, I’m really embracing the moment,” Schwarber said on a conference call. “The Cubs organization has a very rich history and I got a taste of it when we were there with Team USA this past summer. That was the first time I was at Wrigley. I fell in love with the place right away."
GMC pitchers can vouch for Schwarber's hitting. He led the conference with a .474 batting average as a senior. He also was a second-team all-state linebacker.
RELATED: See Schwarber's draft profile