Pittsburgh Pirates: Prospects Set for an Extended Look in 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roansy Contreras #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 29: Roansy Contreras #59 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his Major League debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 29, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Sep 29, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Roansy Contreras (59) delivers a pitch in his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Roansy Contreras (59) delivers a pitch in his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Starting pitcher Roansy Contreras

One of the most notable Pirate trades in the 2020-2021 offseason was when they sent Jameson Taillon to the New York Yankees for a four prospect package. While Miguel Yajure was the highest-ranking player of the package at the time, Roansy Contreras has arguably overtaken him for that title.

Contreras pitched an injury-limited 54.1 innings while posting an outstanding 2.65 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and .90 WHIP. He struck out batters at an insane 34.9% rate while having a minuscule walk rate of 5.5%. Plus home runs were almost a non-issue. He had a .83 HR/9, but that could have been lower considering he had a 47.5% ground ball rate and a sub-15% line drive rate (12.5%).

Contreras was one of the many prospects (along with the aforementioned Oneil Cruz) who was promoted to Triple-A in the final 2 weeks of the 2021 season. Contreras only appeared in 3.2 innings with the Indians before being called to the majors where he tossed 3 shutout innings with 4 strikeouts against the Chicago Cubs. Quite the strong first impressions by two of Pittsburgh’s most notable prospects.

Contreras is ranked as the 50th best prospect in baseball by FanGraphs. He saw a huge uptick in velocity this year, averaging out in the mid-to-upper 90’s. He also averaged 2467 RPM. Plus he showed some improved breaking stuff. He’s always had an above-average changeup as well. The velo increase didn’t hurt his command either. He was hitting his spots fairly well, so walks shouldn’t be a major concern.

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Like with Cruz, giving Contreras regular reps in the major leagues already seems a bit fast. With less than 10 innings pitched at Triple-A, I’d expect him to at least get the season started at Triple-A. But him not being part of the Pirate rotation by the end of April would be a huge surpise to say the least.

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