Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining New Pitching Prospect Roansy Contreras


Over the weekend the Pittsburgh Pirates swung their third major trade of the offseason. This trade saw the Pirates send starting pitcher Jameson Taillon to the New York Yankees with four prospects coming back to the Pirates. One of these four prospects was pitcher Roansy Contreras.

Of the four players that the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired in the Taillon trade there may not be any who have a bigger gap between their potential ceiling and potential floor than Contreras. The 21-year-old Contreras could be a top two or three starting pitcher in a MLB starting rotation, or end up as a reliver long term.

During the 2019 season Contreras made 24 starts at the Low-A level. In these 24 starts he logged 132.1 innings, posting a 3.33 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. He walked just 6.7% of batters faced, allowed home runs at a 0.68 HR/9 rate and struckout 21.1% of batters faced.

In his minor league career, Contreras has pitched in 50 games with 47 of them being starts. He has pitched 249.1 innings in these 50 games while posting a 3.25 ERA, 20.1% strikeout rate and a 7.2% walk rate.

Prior to being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Contreras was ranked as the 15th best prospect inthe Yankee farm system by FanGraphs. His fastball, change up and slider are all given future values of 50 by FanGraphs. His overall FV by FanGraphs is 40+. However, had there been a 2020 minor league season and he repeated his 2019 success his FV very likely could have risen to 45.

For reference, when FanGraphs gives a player a 40 FV they are projected to a bench player in the Majors. For a pitcher this would project out as a bullpen arm. A 45 FV projects as a low end regular when they reach MLB, so, in the case of Contreras, a number four or five starting pitcher.

All of that said, Contreras has the pure stuff to have a higher ceiling than a back end of the starting rotation arm. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and can reach the upper 90s. Contreras has a smooth delivery that is easy to repeat which contributes to him having good control.

Moving forward, Contreras needs to still work on his slider. While it has plus potential, there were times in the Yankee farm system it seemed flat. That said, the pitch has sat in the mid-80s in the minors and should be a good one for Contreras.

Contreras signed with the Yankees as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in July 2016. Prior to Contreras signing with the Yankees, the Pittsburgh Pirates were viewed as the potential favorites to land him. However, the Yankees swooped in with a late offer to land him. But, in the end, Contreras has still wound up a Pirate.

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FanGraphs has Conteras’s ETA as 2021. While he will likely start the season in the minor leagues, Pirate fans could see him at the Major league level in 2021. It will be interesting to see where he starts the 2021 season. While there is an argument to be made the Pittsburgh Pirates should be aggressive and start Contreras with Triple-A Indy, Double-A Altoona seems like a more likely landing spot to start the 2021 season.