William Contreras, C, ATL

When the Braves drafted Shea Langeliers #9 overall in the 2019 MLB June Amateur draft, was that a sign that William Contreras was no longer considered their starting catcher of the future?
Video courtesy of Prospects Live
  • Born: December 24, 1997
  • B/T: Right/Right
  • 6’0″, 180lb
  • Signed by the Atlanta Braves in 2015 out of Venezuela.

The Numbers

Those are his raw numbers, but let’s aggregate by level and focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

It’s a chart of beauty when a player moves up each level and the skills improve each level. Then there’s the chart above which does the exact opposite…

It certainly makes sense that as the competition gets tougher, the numbers would take a step back, but we still like to see growing young men improve even as their competition improves. While Contreras has always been young for his level, and catching is the position where we are most forgiving of slow development, it hurts my eyes to see just about every skill back up. Even when he moved from High-A to Double-A in 2019, his skills regressed as he moved.

Was seeing this the reason the Braves drafted Langeliers?

He hit righties better at Class A Advanced, and then he hit lefties better at Double-A. Flip a coin.
It’s not pure pull power, but he does cluster his hits more toward right and center-right. Still, he does have some opposite field power even at his young age.
There it is visually, but one key thing shows up in this graphic that eluded the numbers earlier. We see his nice 2017 with a late fade. We see him mastering A-ball in 2018 before going to High-A and fading. Then in 2019 he struggled in High-A, got bumped to Double-A and really cratered by July.

But we can also see a late-season turnaround, the one thing that gives us hope for his future. To dig yourself out of that deep hole and put yourself back in respectable OPS territory by September, while playing behind the plate every day, is very, very impressive. He was so bad early in the year, the numbers don’t capture it. That graph does, and that’s why we try to learn visually!

The Scouts

Warnings

Who is the real William Contreras, the one who cratered early in the season, or the one who dug himself out of the hole late in the season?

Can he get starting playing time in the majors without a trade now that the Braves drafted Langeliers? Is Contreras even going to be good enough to be a starter anywhere?

Or is this a case of a catcher taking time to develop?

Conclusion

He doesn’t strike out too much, and he still draws walks, and he showed some power in the past, even a little opposite field power. His defense is good, and he certainly can become a major league catcher on that basis alone. At maturity he is expected to have a decent BA and have decent power.

But the scouts are divided between thinking he will be a starting catcher or a reserve catcher. Sounds as if the Braves are a bit divided too. Will it take a trade for Contreras to reach his full potential?

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