Chicago Cubs: Willson Contreras and company off to a red-hot start

Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs are several games into their Cactus League schedule and have been flexing some muscle from one specific spot on the depth chart.

Finally, baseball has returned, and the universe feels right. Entering camp, the Chicago Cubs had some questions that needed to be answered under new manager David Ross. So far, things have been split as some offensive players have started strong while pitchers hit snags of their own.

Thankfully, it’s only spring training. Meanwhile, and Ross should be pleased about this, Willson Contreras and the rest of these Cubs catching corps have been seeing the ball well entering Wednesday’s game against the Royals.

Ross, as we all know, was a catcher in the big leagues for 14-years, ending his career with the Cubs in 2016. He was hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates during their World Series celebration, carrying him off into the sunset.

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Since then, Contreras has stepped into the role as the guy behind the dish. On Saturday, February 22, Willson clubbed Chicago’s first home run of the spring in a 12-2 routing of the Oakland Athletics.

The 27-year-old slugger ended the day 1-for-2, relieved by P.J. Higgins, who split 2019 between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. It hasn’t been the two of them swinging hot bats early on either.

In the second game of Cactus League action, Victor Caratini crushed a towering fly ball to right field in a 4-2 losing effort against the Dodgers. Caratini’s blast was the second by a Cubs catcher in as many games, keeping the lumber train moving forward.

A day later, 32-year-old veteran Josh Phegley extended the catchers home run streak to three with a three-run bomb of his own. Phegley, who caught Mike Fiers‘ no-hitter in 2019, signed a minor league deal on January 17. The chances of him making Chicago’s Opening Day roster may be slim.

Replacing Phegley would be Higgins, and P.J. would not disappoint as he too would go yard in the seventh for the first time this spring. Following Chicago’s 12-6 loss at the hands of Colorado, Cubs catchers were (entering Wednesday) hitting 7-for-17 with four home runs and eight RBI from the position.

One man on the outside looking in is Chicago’s top prospect, Miguel Amaya. Amaya, however, has recorded two-hits, including a double through 10 at-bats. The 20-year-old from Panama saw limited action in 2019, making only seven plate appearances where he tallied an RBI against the Royals.

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Seeing this specific spot of the depth chart providing offensive support is a sigh of relief. Not just from Contreras but those who will serve as depth within the minor league system. Carrying this momentum into the regular season is expected by those involved, as it should be.

Contreras prides himself on being one of, if not, the best catcher in the game. An attitude that should be picked up by the rest of this catching group.