RiverDogs' Contreras finishes with flourish

Yankees No. 15 prospect throws six scoreless in final '18 start

Roansy Contreras lowered his ERA to 2.42 in 12 starts across two levels this season. (Gordon Donovan/MiLB.com)

By Vincent Lara-Cinisomo / MiLB.com | September 1, 2018 12:02 AM

Roansy Contreras saved one of his best starts of the season for his last one.

The Yankees' 15th-ranked prospect delivered six scoreless frames, allowing two hits, as Class A Charleston outlasted West Virginia, 4-3, in 10 innings on Friday at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Ballpark.

Gameday box score

The 18-year-old right-hander threw 47 of 74 pitches for strikes, fanning six and walking three. The six innings matched his longest outing since he was promoted to Charleston on July 21. He worked seven innings for Class A Short Season Staten Island on July 16, his final start at that level.

Video: Sixth K for Dogs' Contreras

"He's just 18 years old, and he's just getting used to a full season," Charleston pitching coach Justin Pope said. "You can't prepare yourself for a full season. You think you can prepare yourself, but until you're getting the ball every fifth day, you don't know what it's going to be like. Mentally, it's a grind. But this is a great step.

"As young as he is, it's more mental than anything. He's never really pitched until this late in a season, and thoughts of being tired are creeping in."

It was the second scoreless start of the year for the native of the Dominican Republic, who blanked Tri-City for six innings in his second game of the season on June 24.

Contreras, considered one of the top international players available during the 2016 signing period, inked a $250,000 deal with the Yankees. He moved quickly, pitching only six times in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before coming to the States in July 2017. He excelled as one of the youngest starters in the New York-Penn League this summer, needing only five outings to earn a promotion.

Scouts say his fastball can reach 97 mph and that he can spin a curveball. He also shows a developing changeup with fade, and his athletic delivery makes a future as a starter a real possibility, despite standing only 6-feet and weighing 175 pounds, according to scouts.

"I think he's a starter," Pope said. "He's actually got long arms, long limbs, long muscles. He has good size and he's going to be a strong kid."

On Friday, he put baserunners on in each of the first four innings but worked around trouble neatly. The fifth was his only clean frame, but after third-ranked Pirates prospect Travis Swaggerty doubled with one out in the sixth, Contreras fanned Connor Kaiser and ninth-ranked Calvin Mitchell to end the inning and his night.

"I was real excited with the way he finished," Pope said. "He did have runners on base the first four innings, but none got past first base. But, yeah, that sixth inning, I was really pumped to see him finish off the night."

The RiverDogs grabbed the lead in the second as Wilkerman Garcia walked, stole second and scored on Mitchell Hansen's single off starter Hunter Stratton. They made it 2-0 in the sixth as Welfrin Mateo singled, swiped second and raced home on Leonardo Molina's grounder.

The Power tied it in the seventh. Facing Brooks Kriske, Rodolfo Castro walked and Raul Hernandez hit a ground-rule double. After Chris Sharpe struck out, Jesse Medrano delivered a two-run single. 

The game stayed tied until the 10th, when the Power took the lead on Medrano's RBI single.

Charleston evened it again on Carlos Vidal's single and won it when No. 29 Yankees prospect Dermis Garcia singled Vidal home.

Carlos Espinal (2-1) got the victory, despite allowing the go-ahead run in the 10th.

Cam Alldred (0-1) allowed two runs on three hits to take the loss.

MiLB include

Earlier in the day, Contreras saw former Staten Island teammate Juan De Paula traded to the Giants for Andrew McCutchen. The significance of that deal wasn't lost on the right-hander, Pope said.

"These kids are smart, especially Roansy," said Pope, who played in the Minors for the Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies. "For an 18-year-old, he handles himself well. He's very professional. Definitely [players] are aware that there are 29 other teams out there. Scouts are there every night. I tell them, 'No matter who's watching, give it your best.'"

The next step for Contreras is the instructional league, his pitching coach said. He'll take a couple of days off but will keep throwing as he prepares for instructs and the offseason work the Yankees have for him.

"The future is very bright," Pope said.

Vince Lara-Cinisomo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @vincelara. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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