PITTSBURGH -- Kyle Schwarber headed to Boise to start his professional career after agreeing Wednesday to a $3.125 million bonus with the Cubs.
And Cubs manager Rick Renteria, a former first-round pick of the Pirates who spent 10 seasons in player development as a minor league manager and coach, is extremely encouraged by Schwarber's eagerness after he was selected as the fourth overall pick in the draft June 5.
"It speaks more to him," Renteria said of Schwarber, a catcher-outfielder who is expected to make his professional debut Friday for the Hawks in the Class A short-season Northwest League opener.
"That goes to show you he wants to play. It speaks more to who he is and his character and what he wants to start doing as far as his career is concerned. It's important to get acclimated to the professional game. The sooner, the better."
Schwarber, who batted .358 with 14 home runs during his junior season at Indiana, signed a bonus about $1.5 million below the assigned value for the fourth overall pick. Schwarber, who was ranked as the 17th-best prospect in the draft, received a bonus comparable to the assigned value for the eighth and ninth overall pick.
That allows the Cubs to allocate more money for other top unsigned picks, such as fourth-round selection Carson Sands, a left-hander from North Florida Christian High School in Tallahassee, Fla. The assigned value for the 109th pick (with which Sands was drafted) is $480,600, but the Cubs now could offer him a bonus up to $898,210 and not face a penalty.
Sands, who pitched last summer at Wrigley Field and has performed for Team USA, signed a letter of intent to pitch at Florida State. Baseball America ranked him as the 53rd-best prospect.
No runs, no worries: The success of base stealers with starting catcher Welington Castillo on the disabled list doesn't seem to faze Renteria.
That's because pitchers have posted a 2.88 ERA with John Baker and Eli Whiteside behind the plate, which Renteria believes has offset opponents 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts against the two, including two in Tuesday's 7-3 victory over the Pirates.
"The pitcher still has to attack the hitter and do the best he can at minimizing the potential of a run-scoring base," Renteria said. "The game certainly dictates how we might maneuver and do things. At this point, I'm not really that concerned with that."
Extra innings: Castillo, who is sidelined with left rib inflammation, took 25 dry swings and 25 swings off a hitting tee before running without any discomfort at the Cubs' Mesa facility. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney (hamstring) continues to progress at Class A Kane County, but no timetable has been set for his activation. ... The Cubs announced a four-year extension with Double-A Tennessee that will last through the 2018 season. Their partnership started in 2007.
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