TODAY: The Pirates officially called up Contreras prior to today’s game, while Underwood was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.
APRIL 8: The Pirates are planning to recall pitching prospect Roansy Contreras, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Reliever Duane Underwood Jr. left yesterday’s game against the Cardinals with right hamstring discomfort, and the Bucs are opting to add another arm to the staff. Contreras is already on the Pittsburgh 40-man roster.
Contreras is among the most promising pitchers in the Pittsburgh farm system. Acquired from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon deal last winter, the righty broke out with an excellent first season with the Bucs. While he missed some time with a forearm issue, Contreras made 12 Double-A starts and pitched to a 2.65 ERA in 54 1/3 innings. The Dominican Republic native punched out a stellar 34.9% of batters faced against a 5.5% walk rate, earning a bump to Triple-A and then the majors late in the year.
Along the way, the 22-year-old impressed evaluators. Each of Baseball America, FanGraphs, The Athletic and ESPN slotted Contreras among the game’s top 100 prospects this winter, with FanGraphs placing him inside their top 50. He draws praise for a fastball that averaged north of 96 MPH in his big league debut, as well as a pair of breaking balls with decent control. FanGraphs suggests he could soon develop into a mid-rotation starter.
It’s not clear how the Bucs will use Contreras, or if this latest promotion is for good. He’s in his second of three minor league option years, and Pittsburgh could send him back to Triple-A Indianapolis in short order. The Pirates drew some criticism for optioning top shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz to start the season. Like Cruz, Contreras picked up two days of big league service time last year but has extremely little experience at the minors’ top level.