GSA Spotlight: Sam Houston's Carlos Contreras

Sam Houston junior outfielder Carlos Contreras doesn’t spend all hours of a day worrying about hitting analytics or his launch angle. You know what he does do? He lives in the batting cage.

Division I Baseball has been littered with surprises both from a team and individual standpoint. And Contreras, who arrived in Huntsville from Cisco (TX) College, would qualify as a surprise — at least his production being as ridiculously impressive as it is right now.

And the best thing about Contreras? Just call him Mr. Old School.

“Here’s the thing about Carlos — he’s a neat story — he’s not into the new stuff in terms of hitting,” Sam Houston head coach Jay Sirianni said. “He’ll spend hours upon hours in the batting cage hitting off a tee, taking balls off a machine and things like that. He’s just one of those old schools guys doesn’t worry about the new stuff — he just hits based on feel.

“If he goes out there and something feels right, he just keeps doing it,” he added. “And if it doesn’t feel right, he’ll tweak something. It’s not necessarily a mechanical thing with him — it’s more so a feel thing.”

Whatever Contreras’ approach is right now needs to be continued. The hard-hitting outfielder first caught my attention earlier this season when I was covering Sam Houston against Nebraska. In that game alone, Contreras had three hits and knocked in four runs. He had a smooth and mature offensive approach, and as I wrote at the time, he always seemed to find holes.

A few weeks later in a series against rival SFA, Contreras, a 5-foot-10, 195-pounder, set a school record for RBIs in a game with nine.

He has since continued his successful ways and is one of the nation’s premier hitters. Contreras ranks third nationally in batting average behind Auburn’s Sonny DiChiara and Canisius’s Max Grant with a .430 average. His other numbers are equally impressive.

Contreras has a .473 OBP to go with a 1.227 OPS. The hard-hitting lefthanded hitter also has smacked 12 doubles, six triples, 12 homers and a whopping 76 RBIs, which ranks first nationally. Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada is two shy at 76, while Texas’ Ivan Melendez is sitting at 68. Both of those guys are Golden Spikes Award finalist types, too.

Contreras continues to show that he belongs in that elite category.

“I think when we recruited Carlos, we saw a guy who could be a hit collector for us,” Sirianni said. “He was going to come here and be able to use the entire field from the word go. The power side, if I’m being honest, has been the most fun and surprising part of his game, though.

“He’s the type of hitter who wants to shrink the zone as much as possible,” he added. “He wants to back stuff up and hit the ball to left with some power. We always felt like he would really, really hit for us. But the power aspect of his game? I think I’d be lying to you if I said we expected him to show up her and hit close to .500 with double digit home runs.

“He just does a really good job with his approach. He’ll be greedy with the first pitch and the first strike at times, but as the bat goes along, he understands what his job is — to drive in the runner. We’ve got a great nucleus of guys, such as Carlos, who only care about the winning side. They just love to compete and win.”

Contreras has traveled an interesting path to where he is today. The slugger began his collegiate career at New Mexico JC. As a freshman, he hit .261 with two homers 10 RBIs. A year later, he transferred to Cisco, where he hit .405 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. A strong season, no doubt, but when compared to what he has accomplished at the Division I level this spring? Just decent.

It’s hard to find a comp for Contreras. He’s not loaded with prospect tools, and he doesn’t have a gladiator frame. But boy, is he a pure hitter. I asked Sirianni about his most favorable comp, and he referenced former Nebraska standout slugger Ken Harvey. Harvey, who was 6-foot-2, 225 pounds during his playing days at Nebraska, hit .478 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs in his final season with the Huskers. Contreras will have a tough time besting that home run mark. But that RBI mark? It’s expected.

“He’s pretty similar to Kenny Harvey, but he’s a lefthanded hitter. He’s just one of those guys who is strong enough to get disconnected with his approach and still stay flat long enough to handle the ball,” he said. “It’s not always the prettiest thing in the world, but he can control the bat and he hits it where they aren’t. He just has very good hand and eye coordination.”

Moving forward, Contreras will be a key component to Sam’s postseason hopes. The RPI won’t get into at-large range for the Bearkats, but there is still the WAC tournament, and Sirianni’s club will need Contreras to be as productive as ever.

The other thing that will be interesting to watch about the outfielder is his draft status. Contreras, we mentioned earlier, isn’t oozing tools. But you know what he is? An excellent hitter with great makeup who works his tail off.

There’s something to be said for that.

“There have been some scouts checking in on him for sure. It’s hard to gauge how many after seeing the throng of guys who would come in and see Colton Cowser last year, but there definitely have been some scouts here,” he said. “Here’s what I’ll say about Carlos — hitters will hit.

“Sometimes as an organization, you shouldn’t overthink things. He’s hit with consistency everywhere he has been in his collegiate career. As for our season, it has been a challenge like it has been for everyone else. But we wouldn’t be even close to where we are right now with him. We love having him.” is your online home for college baseball scores, schedules, standings, statistics, analysis, features, podcasts and prospect coverage.