From the mailbag:
"I've watched some Reds games lately and they have a relief pitcher named Carlos Contreras who throws very hard. I have been looking for a possible closer to stash away on my fantasy team and do you think Contreras could pick up saves eventually? I know that probably won't be for the Reds but I am thinking long-term here."--- Paul from Mason, Ohio
You're right, Contreras does throw hard. I don't know about "very hard" though, at least compared to someone like Aroldis Chapman, but Contreras can get up to 97 with the fastball and averages about 93.
The Reds signed him as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. His journey through the farm system took time and he often did not pitch very well, running up some pretty ugly numbers in rookie ball at times, but the potential was always there and he took a step forward in 2012 with a 3.12 ERA, 20 saves and a 63/24 K/BB in 61 innings in A-ball, allowing just 38 hits.
He was used as a starter last year and held up, with a 3.47 ERA in 132 innings between High-A and Double-A, with a 122/62 K/BB and 106 hits. He did show deterioration in his K/BB ratio after being promoted to Pensacola at 26/21 in 42 innings. He pitched 20 more innings for the Blue Wahoos this year with a 2.70 ERA and a 27/11 K/BB.
In the majors thus far he has a 3.95 ERA, 4.65 FIP and a 13/7 K/BB in 13.2 innings. That's nothing great, basically replacement level, but the sample is small and he's had some games where he looked very good.
Contreras has a breaking ball and a change-up to go with the fastball and both pitches are good enough for some observers to project him as a potential starter. Some scouting reports describe the breaking ball as a slider but Pitch F/X categorizes it as a hard curve. Either way, most people view him as a future reliever due to his wobbly command and I think that makes sense.
Whether he closes or not will depend on team circumstances, in Cincinnati or elsewhere, and if his command sharpens further. It's not impossible and he does have experience in the role, but I don't think I would make a fantasy investment with the idea that he'll definitely pick up saves down the line. At age 23, his career could still head in any number of directions.
You should view him as a potentially very good middle reliever who isn't quite there yet. Any fantasy value from that would depend on how valuable filler innings are in your league. Saves down the line would be a bonus and not something you should count on.
Here's a good summary from Dougdirt of RedsMinorLeagues.com: