MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.
Willson Contreras began the 2015 season as a fairly anonymous Cubs farmhand and ended it as the best catching prospect in baseball. He led the Double-A Southern League with a .333 batting average and 46 extra-base hits during his breakout season, and the question was whether he could repeat that performance.
So far in 2016, Contreras has responded emphatically. He's posting even better numbers in Triple-A, hitting .335/.428/.585 with nine homers and 39 RBIs through 37 games. Contreras has been on fire recently, going 10-for-20 in his past five games with three homers and 14 RBIs to headline the latest edition of MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week.
Here's the complete team for games from May 31-June 5:
C: Willson Contreras, Cubs (No. 2 prospect)
5 G, .500/.583/1.150, 7 R, 10 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1 SB
Though the Cubs have said they want Contreras to continue to refine his defense before he gets the call to Wrigley Field, there's not much left for him to prove offensively. He ranks third in the Pacific Coast League in on-base percentage, fourth in OPS, seventh in slugging and eighth in batting.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Contreras goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=773072183
1B: Rowdy Tellez, Blue Jays (No. 8 prospect)
7 G, .440/.516/.880, 9 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO
Tellez started to come out of a season-opening slump when he earned his first PTOW mention three weeks ago, and he has stayed hot since. He hit safely in all seven games last week and drove in runs in six of them, boosting his Double-A line to .251/.366/.481 and an Eastern League-best 34 walks.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Tellez sends one out - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=766669383
2B: Andy Ibanez, Rangers (No. 15 prospect)
5 G, .474/.500/.947, 4 R, 9 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB
Last year, Yoan Moncada was the Cuban second baseman who took the low Class A South Atlantic League by storm in his pro debut. This season, it's Ibanez, who signed for $1.6 million last summer and got off to an even faster start than Moncada did. He's hitting .324/.413/.546 with seven homers and 10 steals in 49 games, and he has more walks (29) than strikeouts (28).
3B: Renato Nunez, Athletics (No. 6 prospect)
6 G, .296/.394/.630, 6 R, 8 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 8 SO
He may not be the best third-base prospect in the A's system -- that distinction belongs to Matt Chapman -- but Nunez still is a good one. He homered in three games last week and hit safely in all six in which he played, and he's now hitting .264/.319/.510 with 11 homers in 52 Triple-A games at age 22.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Nunez launches homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=782758483
SS: Yu-Cheng Chang, Indians (No. 13 prospect)
6 G, .450/.560/.900, 4 R, 9 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SO, 1 SB
One of the top Asian amateurs on the 2013 international market, Chang signed for $500,000 out of Taiwan and recorded a .986 OPS in his 2014 pro debut before dropping to .655 in low Class A last season. He's back on track in 2016, hitting .280/.352/.505 in high Class A with 27 extra-base hits, just two shy of his total from a year ago.
OF: Austin Meadows, Pirates (No. 2 prospect)
7 G, .444/.467/1.037, 8 R, 12 H, 5 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2 SB
Meadows sustained an orbitral fracture around his right eye when struck by an errant throw while playing catch in spring training. Surgery cost him the first three weeks of the season and he didn't get above the Mendoza Line for good until four weeks after that. Meadows has put together a 14-game hitting streak since, including four multihit games and his first two homers of the season last week, and he's now batting .296/.359/.536 and leads the Eastern League with eight triples.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Meadows hits second triple - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=774750483
OF: Peter O'Brien, Diamondbacks (No. 7 prospect)
6 G, .444/.448/1.074, 7 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO
After striking out in a one-at-bat cameo with the Diamondbacks on May 27, O'Brien returned to Triple-A and took out any frustrations he may have had on Pacific Coast League pitchers by smashing eight extra-base hits and driving in 18 runs -- that's not a typo -- in six games last week. Just the second outfielder to earn repeat PTOW honors this year, he's batting .325/.346/.665 and tied for the Minor League lead with 16 homers while ranking second in RBIs (50), third in slugging and sixth in OPS.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: O'Brien belts grand slam - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=778888183
OF: Daniel Palka, Twins (No. 28 prospect)
6 G, .300/.423/1.050, 6 R, 6 H, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 8 SO
Palka delivered 22 and 29 homers in his two full seasons in the D-backs' system before getting traded for Chris Herrmann last November, and he's on a similar pace this year. His five long balls last week gave him the Southern League lead with 12, and he's batting .267/.353/.508 overall.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: Palka launches homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=778908183
LHP: Tyler Jay, Twins (No. 3 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 0.375 WHIP
The Twins made Jay the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 Draft with the thought of converting the college reliever into a pro starter, a process that has begun this season. He has had no difficulties and enjoyed his best start as a pro last Tuesday, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 11 in eight shutout innings. Through nine starts in the high Class A Florida State League, Jay is 4-4, 2.44 ERA with a 55/14 K/BB ratio and a .216 opponent average in 51 2/3 innings.
RHP: Sean Reid-Foley, Blue Jays (No. 3 prospect)
1-0, 1.93 ERA, 2 GS, 14 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 15 SO, 0.429 WHIP
Reid-Foley had control issues following a promotion to high Class A last July, so he returned to low Class A in August and went back to that level to begin this season. It might be time for him to get another crack at the Florida State League, because he has issued a total of just two walks while recording three straight quality starts, including two last week. They improved Reid-Foley's record to 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA overall, and he has a 55/21 K/BB ratio and a .214 opponent average in 51 innings.