ATLANTA -- Asked if he is hoping he and his younger sibling become baseball’s latest version of the Molina brothers, Cubs veteran catcher Willson Contreras provided an expected response.
“Hopefully, I’m looking forward to seeing my brother play in the big leagues for a long time,” Contreras said. “I can’t wait to play against each other.”
It looks like these siblings will need to wait at least another year to compete against each other. William Contreras was utilized as the Braves’ 27th man in Sunday’s doubleheader against the D-backs. But he didn't appear in either contest and was removed from Atlanta’s active roster by the time the Cubs began their four-game series in Atlanta on Monday.
William Contreras has always been an intriguing prospect. But the significant offensive development he made while working out with his All-Star brother during last year’s COVID-19 shutdown has created reason to believe he too could quickly become one of the game’s top catchers.
MLB Pipeline ranks Shea Langeliers as the No. 3 prospect in Atlanta's system, three spots ahead of Contreras at No. 6. But concerns about Langeliers’ offensive potential combined with Contreras’ offensive strides have led some talent evaluators to believe Contreras will be Atlanta’s catcher of the future.
“I know he’s desperate to play in the big leagues,” Willson Contreras said. “We’ve been talking a lot about the process. I know it’s a slow process. Sometimes, it can take a few months. But I tell him to stay focused, to keep working and learn about his pitchers.”
There’s no doubt William Contreras needs to play every day before entrenching himself at the big league level. The 23-year-old has played just 64 games above the High-A level. Four of those games were at the start of last season, when he served as one of Atlanta’s catchers while Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers both went through COVID-19 protocols.
Contreras went 4-for-10 with a double in those four games.
There was some thought that Atlanta might use Contreras as their backup catcher until the Triple-A season begins on May 5. But the Braves opted to give that role to Alex Jackson, whose offensive limitations significantly reduce his value.
Manager Brian Snitker said the Braves will wait until the conclusion of Wednesday night’s game to announce who will start Thursday night’s series finale against the Cubs. But he added that the start will certainly go to somebody currently on the roster.
So, there’s seemingly a chance the start could be given to Josh Tomlin, who would be capable of giving the club three or four innings. But Snitker hinted he could also choose to use one of his other relievers to serve as an opener.
If all goes well after Max Fried throws live batting practice on Thursday, he could be activated to start against the Nationals next Tuesday or Wednesday. Fried has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on April 13.
Chris Martin will throw another bullpen session and two more simulated games before being activated from the injured list. The veteran setup man has been sidelined since right shoulder inflammation caused his fingers to go numb during an April 4 appearance in Philadelphia.