Kyle Schwarber looks so much like Eric Hinske that the Cubs joke that the rookie slugger is the assistant hitting coach’s son.
Shaven head, sturdy frame, goatee – there is an uncanny resemblance between the two, right down to their left-handed swings.
“I’m so proud of you,” Hinske will tell Schwarber.
“Thanks, Dad,” Schwarber will reply.
Hinske, the 2002 American League Rookie of the Year, played in three World Series and had a .762 career OPS.
Yet, he says of his new pupil, “He’s a much better hitter than I was.”
Schwarber, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft, entered Monday batting .246 with an .872 OPS and 16 home runs in 232 plate appearances.
The Cubs veterans are fascinated with Schwarber, who turned 22 on March 5.
“From his first at-bat in the big leagues, he looked so comfortable in the box, you thought, ‘That’s a big-league player,’ ” catcher David Ross says.
Reliever Tommy Hunter, who joined the Cubs in a July 31 trade, was curious how Schwarber developed his advanced offensive approach, his plan at the plate.
Schwarber, who is from Middletown, Ohio, said he grew up watching Reds first baseman Joey Votto. It hit him at Indiana University, and while playing in the Cape Cod summer league, that he wanted to be the same type of hitter.
“When he gets his pitch, he’s not going to miss it,” Schwarber said of Votto.
Poor Hinske. As Schwarber becomes more well-known, the coach is finding it impossible to escape a new question he is getting from fans.