Results tagged ‘ Willson Contreras ’
(Photo by Roger Hoover)
Spring baseball is just one week away, with pitchers and catchers slated to report next week. This also kicks off one of the best times of the year for prospect watching. On Thursday, ESPN senior writer Keith Law unveiled his Top 100 prospects list, which includes six Cubs. Though the team graduated one of the greatest crops of young talent in organizational history to the majors last year, the quantity of players still on Law’s list demonstrates the waves of talent in the system.
Here is a small portion of what Law had to say on each Cubs prospect:
15. Gleyber Torres, SS
Torres looked much older than 18 in terms of his plate skills during the 2015 season; he stayed behind the ball really well, with great hand-eye coordination and the ability to shoot a ball to the outfield the way Derek Jeter would do with two strikes. It’s a very easy swing, and Torres keeps his head steady throughout in a way many major league hitters couldn’t emulate. He’s very smooth at shortstop already, with plus hands and a plus arm, showing me in Myrtle Beach’s playoff series against Wilmington that he could come across the bag well on a difficult double play. He needs to continue to get stronger, as well as work on some of his reads in the field and on the bases, where his physical tools have exceeded his acumen. He has a good chance to jump into the top 5 by next year.
Torres burst onto the scene in the Low-A Midwest League in 2015, hitting .293/.353/.386 with 24 doubles for South Bend. Despite his age, he was named the league’s prospect of the year for both his offense and his smooth defense at shortstop.
27. Willson Contreras, C
Contreras is a strong, coordinated, athletic kid with great body control, but none of that had manifested in his performances prior to 2015, except in his generally good contact rates. His bat speed seemed to pick up in ’15, and with a clean, direct path to the ball, he’s going to make a lot of hard contact, though mostly singles and doubles. There isn’t big loft in the swing, although he’s physically strong enough to hit for power, especially if he had a little more rotation in his path. Behind the plate, he has an easy 70 arm and good energy and actions but needs work on the mechanics of receiving and framing, as well as the finer points, like calling a game.
Contreras’ eye-opening 2015 season, during which he won the batting title in the Double-A Southern League, earned him organizational player of the year honors. He finished with eight home runs, 46 extra-base hits and a .413 on-base percentage in 521 plate appearances.
47. Ian Happ, 2B
Happ is a switch-hitter, smoother and shorter from the left side, less consistent and longer right-handed, although the latter could improve with coaching help and more reps. He has 15-20 homer potential, driven more by his contact rate than any need to get stronger or change a swing.
A 2015 first-round pick, Happ spent all of his debut season in the outfield, where he played a large portion of his college career. Offensively, the 21-year-old demonstrated both his power and on-base abilities, hitting nine homers and reaching base via walk in 13.5 percent of his 295 plate appearances between Short-Season Eugene and South Bend.
69. Billy McKinney, OF
McKinney has a beautiful, fluid, left-handed swing, very easy to repeat, geared toward line-drive contact but without a ton of leverage in it, so he projects as a high-OBP, high-doubles guy, but his ultimate power ceiling might be south of 20 homers as a result. McKinney played center in the lower minors, but that was a pipe dream, especially since he’s a below-average runner. He should settle in as an average defender in left, which will be fine given his offensive profile but limits his potential to be a star unless he starts hitting .320, which isn’t out of the question given his swing and eye.
In 2015, McKinney continued to do what he does best: hit. Between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee, the Athletics’ 2013 first-round pick hit .300/.371/.454 with 31 doubles. This season could be a big one for the outfielder, who is one of the toughest outs in the Cubs’ system.
88. Albert Almora, OF
Almora is a 70 defender in center with outstanding reads on balls off the bat, which makes up for his below-average running speed, and the defense will get him to the big leagues even if he doesn’t hit. He boosted his stat line with a huge August at Double-A, but the real difference was that he started making better quality contact as the season went on, squaring up the ball more frequently and thus improving his BABIP and hitting for more power, mostly doubles power.
Though he may be known for his defensive prowess, Almora’s offense in 2015 was strong as well. As mentioned above, the 2012 first-round pick started making better contact and improved his plate discipline, drawing 32 walks—that’s more than his previous two campaigns combined. He spent the entire season in Double-A, hitting .272/.327/.400 with six homers and 26 doubles.
91. Dylan Cease, RHP
Cease was a potential top-10 pick in 2014 after his fastball hit 99 mph and he showed a plus curveball that spring, but he suffered a partial tear of his elbow ligament that didn’t respond to treatment, requiring Tommy John surgery after he signed an overslot deal as a sixth-round pick of the Cubs that June. Cease returned this summer and was back up to 99, easier than ever with a cleaner delivery.
The sample size is limited (24 innings pitched), but the Cubs front office raves about Cease’s potential whenever there’s an opportunity. During Theo Eptstein’s postseason recap, he mentioned the right-hander as a player who could really break out in 2016.
(Photo by Jeff Waymire)
Out with one catching prospect, in with another. A year after backstop prospect Kyle Schwarber shot up the charts—and into the major leagues—after being selected in the 2014 draft, the Cubs have another young player rising in prospect polls. According to MLB.com, Cubs farmhand Willson Contreras is the top catching prospect in all of baseball, which is a quick ascent for a player largely unknown as recently as a season ago. Here’s some of what MLB.com had to say:
Contreras has a good chance of sticking at catcher. Signed for $850,000 out of Venezuela as a third baseman in 2009, he moved behind the plate in 2012. Contreras is quicker and more athletic than most backstops, and he owns a strong arm and has made progress with his receiving.
The 23-year-old organizational Minor League Player of the Year led the Double-A Southern League in hitting last year with a .333 average and reached base at an impressive .413 clip. He hit eight homers and drove in 75 runs in 454 at-bats while playing solid defense behind the plate. Contreras backed up his strong 2015 campaign with a solid stint in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .283/.361/.547 in 53 at-bats, with three homers and eight doubles. Though the Cubs are mostly set at catcher for 2o15, some believe the third baseman-turned-catcher could be ready for major league action as soon as this year.
(Photo by Roger C. Hoover)
The crop of Cubs prospects representing the organization at the 2015 Arizona Fall League might have lacked the hype that accompanied Kris Bryant, Javier Baez or Addison Russell in recent years. However, a few prospects did raise their profile in the showcase league and could be part of the next wave of budding stars.
On Tuesday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis unveiled his top 20 prospects from the AFL, and a pair of Cubs made the list.
5. Willson Contreras, C, Mesa (Cubs No. 10 prospect): After leading the Double-A Southern League in batting (.333) and extra-base hits (46), he continued his breakout 2015 by hitting .283/.361/.547 before straining a hamstring. Like [Gary] Sanchez, Contreras is an offensive-minded catcher with enough defensive skills to be a big league regular.
MLB ETA: 2017
11. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Mesa (Cubs No. 20 prospect): The Cubs keep churning out impressive offensive prospects, and here’s yet another. Candelario is a switch-hitter with legitimate power (he ranked second behind Sanchez with five homers, 13 extra-base hits and 50 total bases) and arm strength, though he may not have the agility for third base.
MLB ETA: 2017
The 23-year-old Contreras, a converted third baseman, slugged .891 during the Double-A season and was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year. He debuted in the Cubs system in 2009 as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League and could be knocking on the major league door sooner than later.
Candelario, who turned 22 on Tuesday, hit .291/.379/.462 between High-A and Double-A in 2015. It was a nice jump from a subpar 2014, though he’s always been one of the younger players at each of his respective stops. He signed with the Cubs in September 2010.
The Chicago Cubs today named catcher Willson Contreras and right-handed pitcher Ryan Williams the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
Contreras and Williams will be honored during an on-field ceremony prior to the Cubs 7:05 p.m. CT game next Monday, Sept. 28, against the Kansas City Royals at Wrigley Field.
Contreras, 23, led the Southern League with a .333 batting average (151-for-454) to go along with 71 runs, 34 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 75 RBI for Tennessee this season, his first time at the Double-A level. He ranked second in the league in doubles, RBI and on-base percentage (.413) while his .478 slugging percentage ranked third and his 217 total bases were fifth.
The right-handed hitter became the first Tennessee player to win the league batting title since Joe Gate in 1978. Contreras hit .371 (33-for-89) against left-handed pitching and posted a .323 mark (118-for-365) against right-handers. He enjoyed a season-high 14-game hitting streak from July 28-August 10, in which he batted .519 (28-for-54) and earned Player of the Week honors for July 27-August 2.
Behind the plate, Contreras recorded a .987 fielding percentage (8 E/600 TC) and threw out 27-of-97 (27.8 percent) baserunners attempting to steal. He also played eight games at third base.
Signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in December 2009, Contreras has hit .275 (465-for-1,692) with 81 doubles, 19 triples, 30 homers and 239 RBI in 462 career minor league games.
Williams, 23, combined to go 14-3 with a 2.16 ERA (34 ER/141.2 IP) in 26 games (24 starts) between Single-A South Bend and Tennessee. He walked just 18, struck out 98 and surrendered just two home runs in 537 batters faced. His 14 victories and 2.16 ERA both led the Cubs minor league system, while his 98 strikeouts ranked fifth.
Named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of May, Williams started the year with South Bend and was 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA (7 ER/53.2 IP) in nine games (eight starts) for the Cubs before he was promoted to Double-A on June 3. He proceeded to go 10-2 with a 2.76 ERA (27 ER/88.0 IP) in 17 games (16 starts) with the Smokies, leading the team in victories, and earning Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors for August 10-16 (2-0, 0.75 ERA).
Williams was selected by the Cubs in the 10th round of the 2014 draft out of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. He is 16-4 with a save and a 2.03 ERA (38 ER/168.1 IP) in 37 career minor league outings, including 24 starts. He has struck out 127 batters, walked just 21 and allowed only four home runs.
Games were scarce around the Caribbean Thursday, with many leagues taking the day off. However, there was a game in Venezuela featuring a pair of Cubs representatives. Here’s how they fared:
- 1B Willson Contreras had a two-hit game, finishing 2-for-5, as the Tigres de Aragua took down the Tiburones de La Guaira. He finished with two runs in the finale of the round robin portion of the postseason. Aragua finished 8-8 and will not advance to the finals.
- LHP Joseph Ortiz pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Tiburones, earning his third hold of the playoffs. La Guaira finished the postseason 5-11.
Junior Lake recorded a home run for his Dominican squad in an otherwise quiet day for Cubs representatives around the Caribbean Wednesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:
- CF Junior Lake provided all the offense for the Estrellas de Oriente in their 5-1 loss to the Gigantes del Cibao. Lake hit his second home run of the postseason in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk. His team reached base only two other times as the Estrellas now trail 3-2 in the best-of-nine championship series.
- SS Javier Baez went 0-for-5 with a walk, though his Cangrejeros de Santurce squad topped the Indios de Mayaguez to tie the best-of-nine championship series 1-1.
- 1B Willson Contreras couldn’t repeat his solid Tuesday, going 0-for-4 on Wednesday, but his Tigres de Aragua topped the Aguilas del Zulia. The Tigres have been mathematically eliminated from advancing to the championship round.
Willson Contreras came up big as a pinch-hitter to help his team earn a victory Tuesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- PH-1B Willson Contreras replaced Wilson Ramos and recorded two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth inning, to boost the Tigres de Aragua to a win over the Tiburones de La Guaira in the round robin portion of the Venezuelan postseason. However, with just two games remaining, the Tigres have been eliminated from postseason play. The top two teams advance to the final, and Aragua can finish no better than third.
- SS Javier Baez went 0-for-4 as the Cangrejeros de Santurce fell to the Indios de Mayaguez in the first game of Puerto Rico’s championship series.
- CF Junior Lake finished 0-for-4 in the Estrellas de Oriente’s 5-3 loss to the Gigantes del Cibao. The best-of-nine championship series is now tied at two games apiece.
Javier Baez blasted his first home run of the winter Sunday, while Junior Lake contributed to his Dominican squad. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- 2B Javier Baez ripped a two-run, first-inning home run for his first round-tripper of the winter. He also recorded a double to go 2-for-4 in the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s win over the Senadores de San Juan.
- CF John Andreoli struggled at the plate, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the San Juan loss.
- 2B Luis Valbuena had an RBI single. He finished with a hit in his only at-bat in the Cardenales de Lara’s win over the Tiburones de La Guaira.
- C Willson Contrereas was 0-for-3 as the Tigres de Aragua were shut out by the Navegantes del Magallanes.
- RHP Loiger Padron got only one batter out, giving up three earned runs on two hits and a walk. His Leones del Caracas squad fell to the Caribes de Anzoategui.
- LF Junior Lake went 2-for-3 and drew a walk in the Estrellas de Oriente’s 10-3 win over the Gigantes del Cibao. He also scored a run.
- CF Arismendy Alcantara finished 0-for-4 with a walk as the Tigres del Licey fell to the Aguilas Cibaenas.
- 3B Christian Villanueva went hitless with a sacrifice fly and a walk for the Yaquis de Obregon in their narrow loss to the Aguilas de Mexicali.
Luis Valbuena had another solid day at the plate, and multiple Cubs relievers pitched scoreless innings Sunday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- 2B Luis Valbuena had a pair of hits, including a double, and scored two runs as the Cardenales de Lara captured a 7-3 win over the Caribes de Anzoategui. The infielder also added a walk.
- DH Jonathan Herrera recorded a hit and scored a run in the Navegantes del Magallanes’ loss to the Braves de Margarita. He also drew a walk.
- C Willson Contreras hit a single, finishing 1-for-3, as the Tigres de Aragua topped the Aguilas del Zulia.
- RHP Loiger Padron pitched to one batter and got him out despite the Leones del Caracas falling to the Tiburones de La Guaira.
- LHP Joseph Ortiz pitched 2/3 of an inning, giving up one hit and striking out one in the win for the Tiburones.
- RHP Frank Batista pitched two scoreless innings as the Aguilas Cibaenas captured a win over the Tigers del Licey. Batista gave up one hit and struck out one to earn his first hold of the season.
- LF Junior Lake struggled at the plate, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and a walk, as his Estrellas de Oriente side fell to the Gigantes del Cibao.
- DH Christian Villanueva went hitless but drove in his 16th run of the season on a fourth-inning, bases-loaded walk. His club, the Yaquis de Obregon, topped the Naranjeros de Hermosillo Sunday.
Members of the Cubs organization made an impact Tuesday, especially from the offensive side, and a duo of farmhands participated in Venezuela’s All-Star Game. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- CF John Andreoli blasted his first home run of the winter in a 6-2 Senadores de San Juan win over the Gigantes de Carolina on Tuesday. The solo shot came in the third inning, and he added another single, finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored. The 24-year-old Andreoli played 61 games at Double-A last season, compiling a .211/.329/.249 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line, stealing 28 bases and getting caught only twice. Though he lacks some pop, his 13.5 percent walk rate demonstrates his discipline at the plate.
- CF Arismendy Alcantara had a pair of hits as the Tigres del Licey edged out the Aguilas Cibaenas. He recorded his first double of the winter and added a run scored, finishing 2-for-5.
- LF Christian Villanueva had another monster day offensively for the Yaquis de Obregon in their loss to the Tomateros de Culican. The 23-year-old ripped a sixth-inning grand slam and added three singles. He finished 4-for-4. The home run was his sixth of the winter.
- RHP Lioger Padron pitched to one batter and got him out for the Future All-Stars side in their 8-0 win over the LVBP All-Stars.
- C Willson Contreras recorded a single in two at-bats for the Future All-Stars.