Former Middie Kyle Schwarber continues ‘surreal’ ride

In 48 hours, Kyle Schwarber, a baseball player lightly recruited at Middletown High School, went from Class AA to the major leagues, got his first at-bat in front of his parents and friends, made his first start as a designated hitter and finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored in the Chicago Cubs 17-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.

“It’s surreal,” his father Greg Schwarber said, even before Wednesday night’s game. “This whole this is amazing, incredible.”

It got more amazing, more incredible when Schwarber, a designated hitter for the Chicago Cubs, stepped to the plate in the top of the second inning against the Cleveland Indians. With a runner on first, Schwarber, batting left-handed, laced a line drive passed the diving first baseman.

When the ball rattled in the corner, Schwarber, 6-0, 235 pounds and a former all-state football player at MHS, chugged all the way to third, his first triple, first RBI in the majors. An inning later, the Cubs already up 6-0 over the Indians, Schwarber singled to right and collected his second RBI. He scored later in the inning on a homer by catcher David Ross that pushed the lead to 10-0 as boos echoed around Progressive Field.

While Cleveland sports fans certainly had a disappointing Tuesday and Wednesday, this won’t be a week Kyle, his family and friends soon will forget.

His parents, Greg, a retired Middletown police chief, and Donna Schwarber, their three daughters, and other relatives and friends were there Tuesday night in Wrigley Field and the party grew to more than 30 Wednesday night in Cleveland. Several of them were wearing Cubs jerseys with SCHWARBER stitched against the back, and some even were wearing T-shirts from the Smokies, the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate where Schwarber played before he was promoted.

With each at-bat, each hit, the group, sitting in the second section behind home plate, cheered louder.

On Monday night, Schwarber, 22, a 2011 MHS graduate, was notified by the Cubs he was promoted to the major leagues. He wasn’t expected to play, or at least catch, Tuesday night, but when the starting catcher, Miguel Montero, was ejected in the eighth inning, manager Joe Maddon summoned Schwarber.

He saw three pitches in his first at-bat, all strikes, the last one looking.

Welcome to the majors, kid.

“It was great to get him involved,” Maddon said in the visitors’ dugout Wednesday night before the game. “He saw three pitches and came back to the dugout and that’s OK. He got rid of a lot of firsts and then he’ll get more comfortable more quickly. He’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a wonderful young man with an exceptional work ethic.”

Prior to the game, while some of his teammates played video games in the clubhouse, Schwarber met with the coaching staff at a small table. He’s a player who wants to get better.

“I don’t ever want to stop learning,” he said. “I always want to be a student of the game. Whatever I’m trying to, I take it seriously. I want to get better at every aspect of the game.”

His stay in the majors won’t be long, regardless of his performance. The Cubs said Schwarber will play six games, then return to the farm system, this time in Class AAA. Even with Montero suffering from a stiff back, Maddon said Schwarber won’t stay with the Cubs after Sunday’s game in Minnesota.

Few could have seen this much success this fast from Schwarber.

He was the No. 4 overall pick out of Indiana University by the Cubs last June. He received a $3.125 million signing bonus, and since then, has steadily climbed. Some players spend their entire careers in the minors. Schwarber was there for one year.

Greg Schwarber knows six games don’t make a professional baseball career.

“He hasn’t made it,” his father said. “He has a long way to go.”

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