The Chicago Cubs today named Tennessee Smokies catcher Willson Contreras as the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year and Smokies right-hander Ryan Williams as the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Both players will be honored at a ceremony at Wrigley Field before the September 28 game against the Royals.
Contreras was the first Smokies hitter to win a batting title since 1978, hitting .333 with a .413 OBP and a .478 SLG. Contreras hit 34 doubles last season, four triples and eight home runs. The doubles and OBP numbers also led the Southern League. Contreras also led the league with 75 RBI.
Contreras was a Southern League midseason and postseason All-Star this season.
Williams started the season in South Bend, where he went 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA over 53.2 innings spread over nine appearances, eight of which were starts. When injuries hit the Tennessee starting rotation, the Cubs skipped Williams over High-A Myrtle Beach and he thrived in Double-A. For the Smokies, Williams was 10-2 with a 2.76 ERA over 88 innings in 17 appearances with 16 starts. Most impressively, in those 141.2 innings between Low-A and Double-A, Williams walked just 18 batters and surrendered only two home runs.
The honors were well deserved for both players and obviously the majority of you agreed with them. We can hope to see even greater awards in the future for both of these players.