With Cactus League games underway, in preparation for the 2018 regular season, now is a good time to make predictions about who might be a breakout star for our beloved Cubs this year.  The Cubs will once again have a fairly young group of position players to compliment their veteran pitching staff.  While many of the core position players are in their early to mid-twenties, many of them have multiple years of experience playing in big game after big game. From 2015 through 2017, Cubs prospects were forced to grow up quickly and adjust to life in the big leagues while playing on the brightest stage during the postseason.

One player who has handled the spotlight extremely well as a youngster on the northside is Willson Contreras.  Contreras made his MLB debut for the Cubs in June of 2016.  Contreras hit the first pitch he ever saw in the majors over the center field wall in Wrigley Field for a 2-run home run and he hasn’t looked back since.  Throughout the remainder of the 2016 World Championship season, Contreras proved his versatility by starting games at left field, 1st base, and his natural position of catcher.  In game 7 of the World Series, Contreras got the starting nod over veterans Miguel Montero and David Ross.

By most accounts, 2017 was an excellent year for the Cubs backstop.  He proved to be a valuable weapon offensively, hitting 21 home runs in just 117 games.  Contreras also put the league on notice of his cannon-like arm from behind the plate.  His ability to throw to any base at any time takes a great deal of pressure off Cubs pitchers (Jon Lester) who need not worry as much about holding runners close to the bag.

Looking forward to the 2018 season, it is my opinion that Willson Contreras is going to become a household name for all baseball fans.  If Contreras can stay away from the injury bug, there is no reason that he won’t be one of the top 3 catchers in MLB.  He has all the necessary skills and he also has the drive and the passion.  Contreras takes control of the game the same way one might expect a 15-year veteran to.  He wears his emotions on his sleeves but also knows when it is time to dial back the intensity a bit.  He is everything that a team could want in a young catcher and I am looking forward to him leading the way for the Cubbies for years to come.

 

“Photo” by gfycat.com

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