School: University of Florida; Class: Junior
Position: C/; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-2; Weight: 215
Previously Drafted: Milwaukee Brewers, 17th round, 2014
Background: Just one of a surprising number of collegiate hitters to struggle during their junior seasons, Schwarz was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 17th round coming out of Palm Beach Gardens High School three years ago. Instead of signing, he opted to ply his craft for Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan – a move that clearly looked like the right decision just one year later.
Schwarz, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound backstop who currently moonlights as a first baseman, got off to a torrid start to his collegiate career, bashing the opposition to the tune of .332/.398/.629 with a whopping 37 extra-base knocks (16 doubles, three triples, and 18 homeruns). He also managed to post a relatively solid strikeout-to-walk ratio, 46-to-28, for a power-hitting teenage bat in the SEC.
That production earned him a litany of awards including:
- SEC All-Freshman Team
- All-SEC Second Team
- Perfect Game First-Team Freshman All-American
- NCBWA First-Team Freshman All-American
- Louisville Slugger First-Team Freshman All-American
- D1Baseball First-Team Freshman All-American
- Baseball America First-Team Freshman All-American
- NCBWA Third-Team All-American
- Baseball America Third-Team All-American
- Perfect Game Second-Team All-American
- D1Baseball Second-Team All-American
- ACBA Second-Team All-American
- NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year
- Louisville Slugger Co-Freshman of the Year
Schwarz also earned a spot on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team – where he promptly struggled in limited action. In 34 at bats, he batted a lowly .118/.167/.235 with just one extra-base knock (a double) and a putrid 9-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
And, unfortunately, that seemed to be a harbinger of things to come for the UF backstop.
Schwarz’s offensive production took a steep decline during his sophomore year as he batted – a still respectable – .290/.397/.456 with 15 doubles, three triples, and seven homeruns. His strikeout-to-walk ratio did improve, going from 46-to-28 to 54-to-45.
This season Schwarz, who looked poised to establish himself as the preeminent collegiate hitter in the draft class, more or less maintained status quo: he hit .282/.378/.466 with 11 doubles and nine homeruns to go along with a 48-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Projection: It’s always a concern when a prospect’s production not only declines during their junior year, but also for the second consecutive season. Add in the fact that Schwarz lost considerable time behind the plate – once again – to teammate Mike Rivera, and his draft status looks a bit murky.
He does have solid bloodlines – his father Jeff pitched in the big leagues for two seasons – and a solid enough foundation that could entice teams in the second round.
The younger Schwarz has solid average or slightly better power, though it grades out far better behind the plate. He’s willing to take more than the occasional free pass (he’s walked in 12.4% of his career plate appearances). And he’s made significant strides this season in trimming his rather large swing-and-miss tendencies.
Simply put, there’s some risk involved in drafting Schwarz. He hasn’t hit enough for first base. But he wasn’t good enough to beat out a teammate in order to stay behind the dish. He’s a man without a home. In that respect, he’s like a poor man’s Kyle Schwarber. In terms of offensive peak, think .260/.320/.430. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him go to the A’s either.
Ceiling: 1.5-win player
Floor: 0.5-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
Grade: Second/Third Round