It wasn’t a lengthy stint to start the year with Triple-A Indianapolis for top pitching prospect Roansy Contreras. The Pirates are bringing the right-hander up to join the Major League roster in St. Louis, a source told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Right-handed reliever Duane Underwood Jr. left Thursday’s opener with right hamstring discomfort, so Contreras will be taking his place on the active roster. The move makes sense since after the Pirates designated right-handed pitcher Adonis Medina for assignment to make room for Andrew Knapp, the Bucs were left with one available arm on the 40-man, that arm being Contreras.
MLB Pipeline ranks Contreras as the No. 71 prospect in baseball. Baseball American has him at No. 80, and Baseball Prospectus ranks him No. 89.
Contreras made a lone start in Pittsburgh for the Pirates towards the end of last season. In that outing against the Cubs, he pitched three scoreless innings and picked up four strikeouts. The 22-year-old made 12 starts with Double-A Altoona last season, going 3-2 with a 2.65 ERA, 76 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 54.1 innings. He made one start with Triple-A Indianapolis before his MLB debut.
Acquired from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade, Contreras’ breakout 2021 season has emerged as arguably the Pirates top pitching prospect. The right-hander features a lively fastball that touches the upper-90s and two sharp breaking balls capable of missing bats. His arsenal combined with his good command give him front-end starting pitcher potential.
It is unclear as of now what Contreras’ role will be with the Pirates. Unless he replaces someone in the five-man rotation or Derek Shelton opts for a six-man, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pitch out of the bullpen.