Chicago Cubs: No. 11: Willson Contreras
Willson Contreras was one of the last of the big wave of young talent that the Chicago Cubs graduated to the major leagues a few years ago. Yet his road was a little bumpier than that of, say, Kris Bryant or Kyle Schwarber.
The Cubs signed Contreras as a free agent in 2009. His career in the minor leagues wasn’t noteworthy during the first few years, but something clicked in 2015. That year, in AA ball, Contreras batted .333 while driving in 75 runs. He then tore up AAA in 2016, putting up an OPS of 1.035 before earning a callup.
Contreras earned a lot of playing time in the second half of 2016, hitting 12 home runs and driving in 35 while batting .282 in 76 games. In 2017, he took another big step forward, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 74. Indeed, the long ball has become a part of his game at the major league level, while he hadn’t shown a ton of power in the minor leagues.
Conteras has dealt with some injuries during his career, yet he seems to be getting better. He’s been an All-Star the past two seasons. Despite playing in just 105 games in 2019, he hit a career-high 24 home runs while posting an .888 OPS, also a career high. His defense behind the plate also continues to get solid marks. Hopefully, Contreras can keep moving forward and have his best year yet in 2020.