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Last updated: Wed. Jun. 04, 2014 - 10:46 am EDT

IU's Schwarber projects as first-round choice

All-America catcher Johnny Bench Award finalist

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BLOOMINGTON -- For Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber, today's pain is likely to become Thursday's Major League draft gain.


Schwarber projects as a first-round draft pick.

Schwarber and the rest of his teammates can concentrate on the draft, and more, after Monday night's NCAA regional loss to Stanford that ended IU's season at 44-15.

On Tuesday, Schwarber was named one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation's top catcher. Mississippi's Will Allen and Kennesaw State's Max Pentecost are the other finalists. The winner will be announced June 26.

Schwarber hit .358 this season with 14 home runs and 48 runs batted in. In his last eight games, he hit .469 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He was named the Big Ten tourney MVP and to the NCAA regional all-tourney team.

One scout who attended the NCAA regional praised Schwarber's bat speed, strength and mental toughness, although the 6-foot, 235-pounder seems to lack the overall athleticism necessary to be an every day big-league catcher. The scout said Schwarber was likely to go in the top 20.

Internet mock drafts bear that out.

MLB Draft Insider has Schwarber going with the No. 20 pick to Tampa Bay. Analyst Christopher Crawford praises Schwarber's power (“He's capable of hitting 30-plus homers if he can play every day”) and ability to hit for average.

Crawford was less impressed with Schwarber's arm strength, calling it average with a release “that isn't quick enough to compensate for it, and he's not athletic enough to make the tough plays often enough.” had Schwarber as the nation's No. 17 prospect, and No. 2 in the state of Indiana behind University of Evansville pitcher Kyle Freeland, the No. 5 overall prospect.

Hoosier first baseman Sam Travis is moving up the projection list. According to, he went from the No. 85 prospect to No. 56 recently. The only player to jump faster is Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino, who went from No. 63 to No. 30.

Travis hit .347 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs. The NCAA regional scout was very impressed with Travis' bat speed through the strike zone, saying he had major league potential. Less certain was his position. Travis also could play third base or left field.

IU third baseman Dustin DeMuth passed on the draft last year after being selected in the eighth round by the Minnesota Twins. rates DeMuth No. 240. He put up impressive offensive numbers. He hit a team-leading .374 with five homers and 40 RBIs this season, and .396 last year.

The Hoosiers' Joey DeNato is a dominant college pitcher (13-1 this season with a 1.82 earned run average, 81 strikeouts and 39 walks), but most experts don't expect that to translate into major league production. The reason, the scout said, was a lack of an out pitch at the highest level. DeNato can nibble at the corners and get college hitters to swing outside the strike zone. That won't work against major league hitters. did not list DeNato among its top 500 prospects.

However, it did list teammate Jake Kelzer, in his first season as a full-time pitcher after splitting time with swimming at IU. The 6-7 Kelzer was at No. 486 after going 1-3 with a 3.13 ERA. He had 44 strikeouts against nine walks.

Two Fort Wayne-area players also made's list. Leo senior outfielder Treg Haberkorn was at No. 433, and former Norwell pitcher Jonah Patten was at No. 451.

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