Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 7

Contreras Set for Return to AA

Carlos Contreras is a minor league veteran that has worked his way from the Dominican League up to one of the top pitching prospects in the Cincinnati system. His conversion into a starter last year was successful and now he's got cracking the AAA level on his agenda for 2014.

Carlos Contreras is a big upward mover on this list compared to last season. After a successful season closing for Dayton and Bakersfield in 2012 Cincinnati moved him into the rotation last year with good results. He held his ERA under four in high-A which would have been the sixth lowest in the hitter-friendly California League had he thrown enough innings. Instead he was promoted to AA Pensacola where he held his ernie under three over eight starts. After the end of the season he made it an easy decision to keep his spot on the Reds 40-man roster.

Since his AA experience was limited he's probably got some continued service in the Southern League in store for him come opening day. Still , at only 23 years of age Contreras is entering his seventh professional season and hasn't missed a stop since debuting in the Dominican League as a teenager. He started with lackluster results through his first four seasons, but the Reds continued to promote him to higher levels anyway. Now he is validating whatever they saw in him that did not get captured in his stats.

Contreras's high-90's fastball as a reliever was likely one thing that kept interest high. It dropped a couple of ticks when his starting duty increased his work load, but he still hit the mid-90's. Development of his breaking pitch to go along with his changeup got him a ticket out of the bullpen into the rotation. His walk rate was a bit high at over four per nine innings pitched which lowered his K/BB ratio below two. He still has plenty of time to improve on that as he works for a midseason promotion to Louisville.

Contreras is right-hander with a long arm span on a 5'11"/205# frame that has worked his way off the radar into a top-notch pitching prospect. He collected some hardware last season when he appeared in both the California League All Star and Futures games. He's paid his dues and the now road looks wide open to place him in a position for a major league call up. He acquitted himself well in spring training but 2014 seems a bit too soon. Don't be surprised to see him take the hill for the Reds next year.

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