The Cubs selected the contracts of four players from Double-A Tennessee prior to Friday’s deadline to set the Major League reserve roster.
Willson Contreras, 23, was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Contreras won the Southern League Batting title as part of his breakout season in which he went from a relative unknown to one of the best catching prospects in the game.
Contreras hit .333/.413/.478 in 126 games for Double-A Tennessee with 34 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a .891 OPS. Contreras led the Southern League in batting average, and ranked second in the league in doubles, RBI (75) and on-base percentage. His .478 slugging percentage ranked third and his 217 total bases were fifth.
Contreras picked up in the Arizona Fall League where he left off with the Smokies but a left hamstring strain cut his fall season short. Contreras batted .283/.361/.547/.908 in 14 games for the Solar Sox with five doubles and three home runs.
Jeimer Candelario, who turns 22 on Tuesday, bounced back from a disappointing 2014 season and put together a rather impressive year with the Pelicans and Smokies. Candelario began the year with High-A Myrtle Beach and hit .270/.318/.415 with 25 doubles, three triples and five home runs for a .733 OPS in 82 games. The Cubs promoted Candelario to Double-A Tennessee and he excelled at the higher level.
In 46 games with the Smokies, Candelario batted .291/.379/.462 with 10 doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .841 OPS. Candelario finished the year with a .277/.339/.431 line in 128 games between Myrtle Beach and Tennessee with 35 doubles, four triples and 10 home runs for a .770 OPS. In 476 at bats, Candelario walked 42 times with 83 strikeouts.
Candelario tore up the Arizona Fall League. In 21 games, Candelario batted .329/.371/.610 with eight doubles and five home runs for a .981 OPS. Candelario also had a very nice showing in the Fall Stars Game with a double in two at bats.
Pierce Johnson, 24, was slowed by injuries at the beginning of the season but was very, very good once he reported to Double-A Tennessee. Johnson went 6-2 in 16 starts with a 2.08 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. In 95 innings, Johnson allowed 24 runs, 22 earned, on 76 hits with 32 walks and 72 strikeouts.
The Cubs sent Johnson to Arizona to make up some of the time he missed. After a rough start to his time in the AFL, Johnson finished with two strong outings. Johnson gave up one run on nine hits over his last two starts (nine innings) with two walks and 10 strikeouts. Johnson was 1-2 in seven starts for the Solar Sox with a 5.47 ERA and 1.66 WHIP (16 runs, 15 earned, 28 hits, 13 walks, 21 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings).
Dan Vogelbach, 22, batted .272 (69-for-254) with 16 doubles and seven home runs in 76 games with Tennessee last year, his first stop at the Double-A level. The left-handed batter walked 57 times to contribute to his .403 on-base percentage and his .425 slugging percentage helped give him an .828 OPS.
The 6-foot, 250-pound Vogelbach has batted .284 (426-for-1,499) with 93 doubles, 60 home runs and 259 RBI in 411 minor league games since being drafted by the Cubs in the second round of the 2011 Draft. He has posted a .382 on-base percentage and a .473 slugging percentage, good for an .855 OPS. He earned mid-season All-Star honors in 2013 while in the Midwest League and in 2015 while in the Southern League.
The Cubs did not add RHP Corey Black to the Major League roster as expected.