#Cubs honor Contreras, Williams

The Cubs named catcher Willson Contreras and right-handed pitcher Ryan Williams as the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Contreras, 23, led the Southern League with a .333 batting average and finished with 71 runs, 34 doubles, four triples, eight home runs and 75 RBI for Double-A Tennessee. He ranked second in the league in doubles, RBI and on-base percentage (.413) while his .478 slugging percentage ranked third and his 217 total bases were fifth.

He’s the first Tennessee player to win the league batting title since Joe Gate in 1978. Behind the plate, Contreras recorded a .987 fielding percentage and threw out 27-of-97 (27.8 percent) baserunners attempting to steal.

Williams, 23, combined to go 14-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 26 games (24 starts) between Class A South Bend and Tennessee. He walked 18, struck out 98, and gave up two home runs in 537 batters faced. His 14 victories and 2.16 ERA both led the Cubs Minor League system while his 98 strikeouts ranked fifth.

He started the year with South Bend and was 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA in nine games (eight starts) before he was promoted to Double-A on June 3. He proceeded to go 10-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) with the Smokies, leading the team in victories.

Williams was selected by the Cubs in the 10th round of the 2014 Draft out of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. He is 16-4 with a save and a 2.03 ERA (38 ER/168.1 IP) in 37 career Minor League outings, including 24 starts. He has struck out 127 batters, walked 21 and allowed four home runs.

The two will be honored next Monday prior to the Cubs’ game against the Royals at Wrigley Field.


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RHP Dylan Cease was ranked as AZ Rookie Leagues 2nd best prospect this year. Some of you may remember Cease had TJ surgery after being Drafted in the 6th Round, 169th overall in 2014. There was also some ridicule of him being drafted injured at the time.
This year his Fastball sat at 94-96 consistently, touching as high as 99.

Tommy John Surgery isn’t the career-killer that it once was. It’s amazing how it went from an up-to-two year recovery and almost certainly losing some velocity on your fastball to back within a year and able to throw as hard as you did before. Sure, drafting a pitcher who is still recovering from TJ might not give you the immediate results you’d like (which is why a pitcher like that might drop a few spots or even a few rounds), but as long as you’re willing to be patient, you could wind up with a pretty good pitcher still capable of having a good long career, maybe only arriving a year later than a non-TJ pitcher drafted in the same spot would.

As you say Doug, TJ surgery is pretty common these days. I was all in on this Draft Pick. I was happy to find the update on Cease and looking forward to his advancement.

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