SARASOTA, Fla. — A threat to touch triple digits, Roansy Contreras gave a glimpse of how his fastball plays in a dazzling major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates late last September.
The Pirates’ top pitching prospect won’t be in their Opening Day starting rotation, however, as the 22-year-old right-hander was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. The Pirates optioned infielder Rodolfo Castro after their game against the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota.
Acquired from the New York Yankees as part of the four-player package for Jameson Taillon in January 2021, Contreras is ranked the Pirates’ No. 4 prospect by Baseball America and No. 5 by MLB Pipeline.
The 6-foot, 175-pounder was 3-2 with a 2.65 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 12 starts for Double-A Altoona last season, where he averaged 12.6 strikeouts and two walks per nine innings. Contreras was selected to the Futures Game at All-Star weekend but was sidelined for two months by tightness in his forearm.
After making one start for Indianapolis last September, the Pirates promoted Contreras for a Sept. 29 start against the Chicago Cubs. Contreras pitched three scoreless innings in the 3-2 loss, striking out four while allowing three hits and one walk.
Contreras hit 99.4 mph on his first pitch of spring training but allowed three runs on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in three innings over two appearances in Grapefruit League play this spring. Contreras gave up a pair of home runs to Rhys Hoskins and Micky Moniak against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
“He’s gonna have to make adjustments,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said afterward. “I think he yanked a couple balls. He yanked the ball to Moniak that he hit out of the ballpark.
“It was important that Roberto (Perez) is back there with him. Because then there can be conversations. Roberto has caught a lot of good pitching in his career. For him to come in and give us feedback on where he’s at is important. But Ro made adjustments. Continue to make sure that he gets appearances, stays healthy, that’s an important thing.”
The 22-year-old Castro made baseball history last year by becoming the first player to have his first five hits go for home runs. He batted .198 (17 for 93) in 31 games with the Pirates after jumping directly from Double-A Altoona, where he slashed .242/.295/.425 with 14 doubles, 12 homers and 47 RBIs in 73 games. Castro was promoted to Indianapolis in late September and hit four doubles, three homers and had eight RBIs in eight games.
Castro batted .231 (3 for 13) with a double, one walk and six strikeouts in six Grapefruit League games. He started at second base Saturday night against the Orioles and went 1 for 2.
By cutting Contreras and Castro, the Pirates now have 47 players in their major league camp.
The Pirates also reassigned right-handed pitchers Yerry De Los Santos, Enmanuel Mejia and Hunter Stratton and lefty Blake Weiman to minor league camp.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .