Cubs Willson Contreras: Top-5 Fantasy Catcher in 2017?

Willson Contreras is one of the many young and dynamic pieces that the Cubs have in their system. But could he potentially be a top-5 fantasy catcher in 2017?

Willson Contreras is one of the best up and coming talents in baseball. He possesses lighting quick hand speed, guiding his offense and electric defense, giving him all the tools necessary to quickly become one of the best catchers in the game. But, could he climb all the way into the top-5 fantasy catcher next season for the Cubs?

Contreras is having a wonderful rookie season, showing flashes of brilliance in both the regular and postseason. Over 76 games for Chicago this season, he posted a, .282/12 HR/35 RBI/2 SB/.845 OPS line. It is easy to see why he was ranked within the top-50 prospects in all of MLB entering the year, and why his future looks so bright.

From a fantasy perspective, the catcher position in 2016 was downright terrible. Outside of the usual handful of steady performers, it was hard to find consistent production even in 10 team leagues. Even though the position is considerably weaker heading into next season, Contreras is a legit top-5 candidate regardless.

While 76 games is a small sample, it was easy to see why scouts have hyped Contreras’ bat speed. Even though he only sported an 18% LD rate, his 50% Med contact, and 32% Hard contact rates, show just how well he can square the ball up. He had 27 XBH in only 283 PA, so there is tangible evidence that supports him potentially having a big season in 2017.

The Cubs were unpredictable when it came to consistent playing time this season due to their depth, and that hindered some of Contreras’ value. But, with David Ross retiring and the inevitable moves coming to help alleviate the logjam, Contreras should be the everyday catcher in 2017.

Chicago will still sport one of the best offenses in baseball, and with the budding power from Contreras, he has a ton of counting stat potential. He is a career .283 hitter in the minors, and has never shown huge swing and miss tendencies, so his AVG should rest easily in the .270-.280 range.

The only real concern with Contreras will be how he fares with a full season of being an everyday backstop. He will only be 25-years-old next season, but there will be the potential for ware down.

Even though Contreras is still young and entering only his second season, fantasy owners should feel a sense of safety in selecting him.  He has a .300/20+ HR/80 RBI type of ceiling, but his .260/15 HR/60 RBI type floor is still adequate. Look for him to be one of the most aggressively targeted players next spring.