A homer in Cleveland. A triple in Cincinnati. From top-to-bottom in his home state, Kyle Schwarber is demonstrating he can pretty much hit anything.
Schwarber hit a two-run triple on Sunday that got the U.S. team rolling toward a 10-1 victory in the All-Star Futures Game, managed by two stars on Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine. The Cubs catcher appreciated the significance — the Reds were his favorite team growing up in nearby Middletown, Ohio.
He had dreamed of one day stepping on the field at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park and seeing what he could do. He got the chance on Sunday.
“It was awesome going up those steps and stepping on that field where I grew up watching the Reds,” Schwarber said. “My eyes lit up! But when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”
The 22-year-old Cubs catcher estimated that he had more than 100 relatives and friends scattered around the stands. Many of them were in Cleveland last month for yet another big moment.
The Cubs called up their 2014 top pick for a one-week stint as a designated hitter during interleague play in June. He went 8 for 22 overall and homered in Cleveland. Then he was sent back to the minors, making him available to play in the Futures Game.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all to go back down,” he said. “One of the benefits is being able to play in this game. This is awesome.”
The U.S. team — managed by former Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Sr. — piled up 13 hits, including a two-run homer by the Pirates’ Josh Bell. The game’s only homer was another unexpected moment for the first baseman, who figured to be fresh out of college right about now.
Bell showed power as a switch hitter in high school. Both of his parents were college professors, and he intended to go to Texas. He was so determined to finish his education that his family sent a letter to all 30 teams telling them not to bother drafting him. The Pirates took him in the second round and offered him a $5 million deal that changed his mind.
Next step: making the majors.
“It’s getting closer and closer with every game that you play,” Bell said. “You try to get a little bit better so you get a little closer to the big leagues.”
There weren’t many good moments for the World team managed by Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who was the first baseman on the Big Red Machine. Leadoff hitter Ketel Marte from the Mariners had a pair of singles and drove in a run. The 21-year-old Marte is batting .343 at Triple-A Tacoma this year.