The younger brother of the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, William signed with Atlanta for a meager $10K signing bonus out of Venezuela. Still just 20-years-old, Contreras has steadily climbed through the lower rungs of the Braves’ system, making his full-season debut in the South Atlantic League for Rome in 2018. I have liked what I’ve seen from the younger Contreras across two spring training looks, and most recently, a four-game series in late May.
Built athletically for a catcher, Contreras holds a 6’0’’ and 180 pound listing with broad, muscular, and flexible features. He runs very well for the position—close to average up the line and true average underway—and the athleticism shows up defensively as well. He’s an adept blocker with advanced lateral mobility at behind the plate, with a cannon arm that’s a no-doubt 60-grade weapon. The tools are here to remain at catcher long-term, though his receiving and game calling need more development than the blocking or throwing. Contreras showed big league raw power to both fields in BP; the ball jumps off his bat with a projectable carry that hints that a grade more raw power could be in the tank. He’s over-aggressive at the plate and hunts fastballs early in counts, but there’s signs of hand/eye skills and some ability to recognize secondary pitches. Contreras works himself into a hole given a swing-happy approach, but it’s enthusing to know what present swing/miss he does show is more a byproduct of youthful aggression than a lack of hitting IQ.
Contreras could be a breakout prospect in the second-half of this season and into 2019, and he’s likely already the best catching prospect in a deep Atlanta farm system. His potential on both sides of the ball is turning heads: he has all the tools to remain at a premium defensive position while showing upside with the bat as well. Any offense you can get at catcher in this era is valuable, and the ceiling is an everyday catcher in the big leagues.