Chicago Cubs: When will we see Willson Contreras?

Feb 22, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs catchers work out in the bullpen during spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs catchers work out in the bullpen during spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

With Kyle Schwarber out for the year and Matt Szczur on the 15-day DL, the question has been looming; when will we see top catching prospect, Willson Contreras get called up to The Show?

When catcher Miguel Montero was placed on the 15-day DL with back soreness, many Cubs fans speculated that the Triple-A catcher might get the call. Much to Chicago Cubs fan’s dismay, he did not. The call instead went to Contreras’ Iowa Cubs teammate, Tim Federowicz. Federowicz, 28, is a journeyman catcher who had an impressive spring training, posting a slash line of .324/.361/.618 with two homers.

“He’s a veteran. He understands the major leagues. He understands veteran pitchers,” said Cubs’ skipper, Joe Maddon via the Chicago Tribune. “There’s a lot of reasons why you signed Fed in the first place, and then you don’t run away from him when the opportunity jumps up there.”

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Though we will have to wait to see Contreras in action at the big league level, Cubs fans should not despair. He will likely get his chance sometime after the all-star break.

“Contreras’s time will come.” Maddon said after the call was made to place Montero on the DL.

Anticipation for his arrival has been hot, as Contreras has been mashing in Triple-A Iowa. He currently boasts a slash line of .338/.415/.465.  Players putting up those kinds of numbers don’t stay in the minors for long. But this situation boils down to more than just skill at the plate. The Cubs want to make sure he’s ready to handle the rigors behind the dish as well.

His situation, though similar, is not quite the same as Kyle Schwarber’s during last season. Schwarber’s bat was so hot that the Cubs turned him into a part-time left fielder just so he could remain in the lineup. This won’t be the case for Contreras.

With David Ross retiring after this season, and Miguel Montero turning 33 this summer, the Cubs view Contreras as the next man up at the catcher’s position. They want him seasoned and ready to be their next everyday catcher.

Miguel Montero has been somewhat of a mentor to Contreras, teaching him the ins and outs of being a big-league catcher on a contending team. Back in March Montero commented on Contreras in the Sloan clubhouse in Mesa, Arizona.

“I’m trying to help him every day. It’s hard to throw a young guy to the wolves like that on a good ball club with a good pitching staff,” Montero said in an interview back in March. “You need to ease his way into it. But there’s no doubt in my mind he’s an everyday guy.”

Joe Maddon further commented on Contreras’ future with the Chicago Cubs.

“You’re looking at the overall development of Contreras,” Maddon said. “You’re probably going to wait till the second half hopefully to get him involved here.”

For the time being, it’s important to note that the Chicago Cubs are not in desperate need of extra help at the plate.  Going into Wednesday, they led the league in runs scored and walks, with 153 and 134 respectively.

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Montero is a veteran player who has been around long enough to understand the nature of the business. “He could be in the big leagues right now.” Montero said.

Coming off of a 97 win season, it has been made apparent that the future is now. Fans will have to be patient, but Contreras should be the next in line to join the Chicago Cubs slew of exciting young players.