Continuing The Times-Tribune’s annual countdown of the top 15 Yankees prospects. I rank 20 prospects, Donnie Collins ranks 20 prospects, and then we average them together. The list takes into account ETA for the big leagues. You’re going to find some guys who might not have ceilings as high as others, but who instead could be in a position to help the Yankees sooner. Since they’re so new to pro baseball, 2018 draftees are not included on the list.
Dominated Short-Season Staten Island. Reached Low-A Charleston as an 18-year-old. Roansy Contreras looks like a solid starting pitching prospect.
Position: Starting pitcher
Acquired: Signed as a nondrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2016.
SWB ETA: 2021
Started his season with short-season Staten Island, where he had a 1.26 ERA in 28.2 innings, walked nine and struck out 32. The Yankees bumped him up to Low-A Charleston — where he was nearly four years younger than the league average player — to finish the season. With the RiverDogs, he had a 3.38 ERA in 34.2 innings, with 12 walks and 28 strikeouts.
Here’s some video of Contreras:
Below, Donnie and I discuss why Contreras lands at No. 9 on the list, what’s good about him and what might need work.
CF: Contreras is an interesting guy. He’s only 19, but the Yankees have already had him up to Charleston. His strikeout numbers don’t jump off the page, but his walks are very low for such a young guy. I think “pitchability” fits for him.
DC: He’s one of those guys who, if you just watched him pitch and just looked at the numbers, you’d never guess he was only 19. He throws a lot of strikes and he does a good job hitting spots. He’s not like the other pitchers you’re going to find on this list, because he’s not an overwhelming ground ball or strikeout pitcher. He just keeps plugging away, and his stuff is decent. I really like his fastball, which gets some pretty good, late movement. Almost cutter action.
CF: His windup reminds me of Severino a bit, in that I’m not sure how much he uses his lower half. I’m guessing that helps him keep things simple and makes throwing strikes a bit easier, but I know when Severino was coming up, people always found that style odd.
DC: It’s another one of those deals where, 10 years ago, they’d have said you can’t pitch like that. And then someone like Severino comes along, and he’s throwing 98, and all of a sudden the leg drive doesn’t matter so much. Contreras is more mid-90s, but I think that’s a good observation. Everything about him is really simple and compact, and his fastball can get it done. I like pretty much his entire approach to attacking hitters. He tries to work both sides of the plate. He works in and out, up and down. Only question I have on him is with the third pitch. Is that changeup going to come along? And as a footnote to that, I saw his breaking ball really good some days and really flat others. He has some work to do there.
CF: I feel like there are certainly guys with higher ceilings in the system, but the fact he knows where the ball is going is a big thing for me to know his floor is pretty high, too. … I think this is the last guy on our list who is a ways away from New York, and while the Yankees farm system might not have as many top-100 prospects as others, it’s not like they’re lacking talent. In fact, they have a lot of it. It’s just going to be a while before we truly learn what their potential could be.
DC: Of the really young guys, he’s the one who is going to move the quickest. I wouldn’t put it past him finding a way to Double-A for a few starts by August. He’s a good prospect with a nice upside, and that’s really what I think of so many of the young pitchers in A-ball that we have talked about. They aren’t can’t-miss guys by any means. But the Yankees have done a nice job developing those types of kids in the recent past. And if they develop two or three of them into big league contributors at some point in the next three, four, five years, then everyone is going to look at this wave in the farm system as a really successful one.
15: Phillip Diehl
14: Stephen Tarpley
13: Garrett Whitlock
12: Nick Nelson
11: Albert Abreu
10: Luis Medina
9: Roansy Contreras
7: March 24
6: March 25
5: March 26
4: March 27
3: March 28
2: March 29
1: March 30
Photo: New York Yankees