Pittsburgh Pirates: Offseason Prospect Watch Edition One
This will be a weekly series that will focus in on one specific prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league organization. It will mainly be about a prospect who is worth watching next season.
Yondry Contreras is a 6’0” 185lbs outfielder from the Dominican Republic. He is very athletic which is a plus for him to stick in center field. He has good strength and has line drive power. Obviously he is 16 year sold and could develop more power with his frame as he matures. He is a well above average runner and has and above average arm. I have watched video on him the thing that impressed me most was his quick hands the zone. One thing that hurts him is that he has poor discipline. With quick hands he often times will chase bad pitches. The Pittsburgh Pirates have dealt with young players with similar issues a such as Starling Marteand Alen Hanson. Contreras earned a 400,00$ dollar bonus.
Performance So Far
Contreras was 17 years old in his first professional season, last year. He played the full year in the Dominican Summer League, or the DSL. Through the first month he was batting .293 with a .388 on-base percentage, a .463 slugging percentage, and a .851 OPS. It seemed that the Pirates found another talented player. However, after the first month Contreras numbers started to plunge. His plate discipline problems started to catch up to him. As pitchers and teams started to figure out his weakness he started to fail. By the end of the season he was batting under the “Mendoza Line”. On the year he a meager .195 with a .546 OPS. He also struck out 84 times in just 58 games.
In 2016 expectations were for Contreras to show some improvement as he moved up. After spending all of 2015 at the Dominican Summer League, he moved the Pittsburgh Pirates Gulf Coast League affiliate. He struggled once again, batting a meager .177 with a .478 OPS. He once again struggled with striking out, as he fanned in a third of his at-bats in 47 games. With that it was an aggressive push to move him to the Gulf Coast League where he was facing more polished players out of American High Schools and Colleges. He likely will be back there for the 2017 campaign.
Contreras was considered the Pirates’ top international signing in 2014. He portrayed the class athletic outfielder with a high upside that the Pirates like signing. They did this in 2011 when they signed Harold Ramirez and Elvis Escobar. The Pirates have done a great job of developing young athletic outfielders and Contreras looked to follow that same path.
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As mentioned earlier, Contreras has a lot of upside, but also he has a lot of issues. He is very young and will not be polished yet. He enters this season at the age of 18. In 2015 he averaged 1.44 strike outs for every one game played. This is the biggest things to watch with him as he develops. If he can decrease his strikeouts per game, then that would result in his batting average and on-base percentage increasing. if he is not making a lot of contact it is hard to be able to tell what kind of power he would have. However, with his frame and athleticism he should possess at-least average pop.
Meanwhile his best attribute is supposed to be his speed, however he only stole two bags in eight attempts. Due to his inability to get on base he was not able to learn how to steal a base in professional baseball. He did hit 2 home runs which was nice to see. Contreras’ bat does possess pop, it is just a matter of him be able to lay off bad pitches and made more contact.
Finally, with players so young, management wants to see the little things gradually improve. Furthermore, if Contreras improves the little things over this year then by the time he is the prime prospect age of 21-23 he will be a legitimate prospect. The Pirates did not sign him at 16 thinking he would be a prime prospect, no team does. They saw tools that they believe they can work with and turn him into a potential major league player. So next year when looking up the box score of minor league games check for Yondry Contreras’ name on the stat sheet.
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