Despite being in the international penalty box in 2016 for overspending two years earlier, the Yankees still signed several intriguing talents, including Contreras for $250,000 out of the Dominican Republic. He first reached Class A at age 18 in 2018 and spent all of last season there, leading the South Atlantic League with 12 wins as the only teenage pitching qualifier in the circuit. Contreras was then shipped to the Pirates in '21 in a package deal for Jameson Taillon. There are divergent views of his future, with some scouts seeing a future starter with three solid or better pitches while others wonder if he'll miss enough bats to stay in the rotation.
Contreras has 92-95 mph fastball that touches 97 and features high spin rates that create some riding action, but it can get hit more than it should because it lacks plane and often gets too straight. His best secondary offering is a mid-80s changeup with heavy sink. He'll also show some curveballs with good shape, though his breaker is more of an average pitch and doesn't overmatch same-side hitters.
Very advanced for his age, Contreras already has feel for sequencing his pitches, repeating his delivery and living in the strike zone. He'll need to refine his command to survive against better hitters, especially as a flyball pitcher without much life on his fastball. Given his aptitude and competitiveness, his proponents believe he'll figure it out.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Though international bonus rules prohibited the Yankees from paying more than $300,000 in individual bonuses in 2016 after they overspent two years earlier, they still landed some intriguing talents. Slick-fielding shortstop Jose Devers ($250,000) became part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Marlins, while right-hander Yoendry Gomez ($50,000) has quality stuff and projectability. The best of the group is Contreras, who signed for $250,000 out of the Dominican Republic and reached Class A in 2019 at age 18.
Like many of the Yankees' best young pitching prospects, Contreras generates high spin rates on his fastball and breaking ball. His heater sat around 91 mph when he signed and now ranges from 93-97 with riding action up in the strike zone. He has nice feel for spinning a hard curveball with good shape and the potential to give him a second plus offering.
Contreras is also making progress with a fading changeup that will help him against left-handers. He repeats his delivery well and fills the strike zone. Though he's only 6 feet tall, his sound mechanics, strength and athleticism should allow him to remain a starter.