The Call-Up: Willson Contreras

Over at the main site, Brendan Gawlowski and George Bissell profiled the Cubs’ newest catcher. We’ve excerpted a section here.

The Situation: The Cubs aren’t really struggling for production behind the plate. Miguel Montero missed a few weeks and is running the worst BABIPof his career, but David Ross has filled in admirably, and the two have been solid, if unspectacular contributors in the National League’s best offense. Willson Contreras has not been summoned to Chicago out of need, but rather because his talent has forced the issue. The 24-year-old backstop has little to prove in the minor leagues: A solid defender, Contreras is also hitting .350/.439/.591 in Triple-A, with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. It remains to be seen how much he’ll play in the Windy City, but it’s clear that he’s ready for the challenge of the highest level.

Background: The Cubs signed Contreras as a teenage third basemen out of Venezuela in 2009. His subsequent climb through Chicago’s system has been slow and steady: After spending two years in the DSL, he’s played for each of the Cubs non-AZL affiliates, lasting about a year in each city. He started catching in 2012, in Boise, shifting behind the plate full-time the following year. Over the years, he’s grown stronger and more discerning at the plate. He’s always made hard contact, but doubles turned into homers as he matured, and he’s morphed from a free-swinger into a player who knows the zone well, one who is capable of working his share of walks.

To read the remainder of the piece, please head on over to the main site.

Lead photo courtesy Mark J. Rebilas—USA Today Sports.

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