Willson Contreras has had a very good year. And he is starting to be recognized as one of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system. With three games remaining in the regular season Contreras is leading the Southern League in hitting and is close to winning a batting title.
Willson Contreras went 1-for-5 in the Smokies 7-3 loss on Saturday night. Contreras is batting .327 for the season, .001 ahead of Max Kepler (.326).
Contreras made MLB Pipeline’s weekly top prospect team along with RHP Oscar De La Cruz. Contreras batted .409/.552/.636 last week with two doubles, a home run, six walks, four strikeouts, five runs, four RBI and two stolen bases. Jim Callis thinks Contreras “has emerged as one of the minors’ best catchers in 2015.”
Willson Contreras was the starting catcher for the North Division squad in the Southern League All-Star game. And he was named a Post-Season All-Star on Thursday. Contreras is the first player for Double-A Tennessee to be recognized as a Post-Season All-Star since 2013. Two years ago, Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, Christian Villanueva, Matt Szczur and Kyle Hendricks received year end honors.
Known for his defense more than his offense prior to this year, Willson Contreras is batting .327/.407/.472 with 33 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a .879 OPS in 124 games. Contreras has walked 56 times with 62 strikeouts in 447 at bats.
Willson Contreras is one of eight Cubs’ prospects that are scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League.
RHP Pierce Johnson turned in a very good start Friday night in a game the Smokies ended up losing 7-3. Johnson allowed one run on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts in seven innings. Johnson posted the ninth quality start in his last 11 outings. Johnson made 93 pitches, 66 for strikes, and recorded 11 outs on the ground with three fly ball outs.
Johnson made 16 starts for Double-A Tennessee and was 6-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Johnson allowed 24 runs, 22 earned, on 76 hits with 32 walks and 72 strikeouts in 95 innings.
Pierce Johnson is slated to spend the fall in Arizona making up time he missed this season in the AFL.
Best Tools in the Minors
Baseball America asked managers and coaches throughout minor league baseball to breakdown players in a variety of categories. Baseball America posted the results by level and league of the polling last month. And several Cubs prospects ended up on the best tools lists for 2015.
OF Rashad Crawford (South Bend Cubs) – Fastest Baserunner
SS Gleyber Torres (South Bend Cubs) – Most Exciting Player
OF Mark Zagunis (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) – Best Strike Zone Judgement
1B Jacob Rogers (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) – Best Defensive First Baseman
3B Jeimer Candelario (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) – Best Defensive Third Baseman
3B Jeimer Candelario (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) – Best Infield Arm
Mgr. Mark Johnson (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) – Best Manager Prospect
C Kyle Schwarber (Tennessee Smokies) – Best Batting Prospect
OF Matt Szczur (Iowa Cubs) – Best Baserunner
INF Javier Baez (Iowa Cubs) – Best Infield Arm
SS Gleyber Torres was promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach on Wednesday and Friday he recorded his first hit, a two-run single in the top of the ninth. Torres went 1-for-4 with two RBI and two strikeouts. In three games with the Pelicans, Torres is 1-for-9 with a walk, three strikeouts and an error.
In 122 games this season, the 18-year old (Dec. 13, 1996) is batting .290/.350/.381 with 24 doubles, five triples, three home runs and .730 OPS.