In his major league debut against Colorado, premiere Padres prospect Mat Latos(notes) bedazzled several Rockies hitters, pounding the strike zone with persistent 94-98 mph gas. Limited to just 75 pitches, he tossed four strong innings, yielding two runs on three hits. He also logged a dynamite 4:1 K:BB split.
Scouts have marveled about his hard-cutting mid-90s fastball. Sunday, his four-seamer was occasionally overpowering. His fierce slider and straight change, a pitch he worked tirelessly mastering this past spring, were also effective. Outside leaving a fastball up against Ian Stewart(notes), his location was impressive.
Mentally, insiders have questioned his fiery, Milton Bradley(notes)-like temperament. Anyone with a tattoo of the MLB logo deserves heavy scrutiny. But he's shown marked maturity and dedication this season. According to his Twitter page, he's even squelched the appetite for succulent road beef. That's intense focus.
Prior to his promotion, the tender-faced 21-year-old amassed heart-pounding numbers at Double-A San Antonio. In 47 IP, he tallied a 1.91 ERA, 0.51 WHIP and an unbelievable 9.00 K/BB. More amazingly, he's surrendered a measly five homers in 128.1 career innings (0.35 HR/9). His tremendous command and ability to miss bats are characteristics of a future ace. San Diego VP of scouting and player development Grady Fuson noted back in March the flamethrower possesses one of "the most electric arms" he's ever seen.
Despite his spectacular upside, the Pads, concerned about Latos' injury-plagued past (oblique, shoulder, ankle) and light minor league workload, have decreed he will not be overexerted. Per GM Kevin Towers:
"He's never thrown more than 55 innings [in one season]. Even though he's flat-dominated, he could end with 150 or so innings. That's more than triple what he's used to. To me, a good barometer is to no more than double the innings."
In other words, his innings total at the big league level likely won't exceed 60 this year. Due to his high-K nature, he will toe the rubber few times, if at all, past the fifth. Maximizing efficiency will be critical to his virtual baseball worth. Still, based on his tantalizing all-around potential, especially in strikeouts, and friendly pitching environment, he's immediately acquirable in deeper mixed leagues. Latos is scheduled to clash with perennial doormat, Washington, Friday.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 58.2 IP, 3 W, 4.28 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 52 K
• Finally it appears Alfonso Soriano(notes), who has waded in a statistical cesspool for several weeks, has found a life raft. Hey, a four-game slate against the NL's worst staff could probably resurrect Chris Davis(notes) from the fantasy dead.
With homers in back-to-back contests and four multi-hit efforts in his past 10, the binge blaster is in the early stages of a mammoth breakout. In leagues brimming with brain surgeons, a discount rate may still apply. This week he attracted Matt Holliday(notes), Troy Tulowitzki(notes) and Jayson Werth(notes) in one-for-one Plus league swaps.
• Happ-y times are here to stay in the City of Brotherly Love. J.A. Happ(notes) was again magnificent, befuddling intra-division rival Florida over seven shutout innings. The near flawless performance extended the rookie's record to a gaudy 7-0. Still, his combination of unsavory walks, fly-balls (0.75 GB/FB) and unsustainable good fortune (.242 BABIP, 4.50 FIP) are strong indicators a correction is around the corner. Dish him while the market is bullish.
• Grossly underappreciated outfielder Franklin Gutierrez(notes) continues to steadily produce. Batting fifth behind everyone's favorite Friendly Ghost, Chris Shelton(notes), the lanky 26-year-old went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. He also swiped his seventh stolen base of the season. Over the past month, he's compiled a .371 BA with six homers, 20 RBI, 18 runs and four steals. Per Y! rankings, that's a top 10 line. Incredibly, he's still owned in just 65 percent of Plus leagues.
• The metamorphosis of Brett Anderson(notes) entered another stage this afternoon against the Angels. Exchanging blows with John Lackey(notes), the rookie conceded just two hits over eight innings, striking out six. He also didn't issue a walk. Over his past 21 innings, no runner has touched home against him.
With his underlying numbers trending upward, the southpaw, owned in a mere 34 percent of Plus leagues, needs to be acquired in 12-team and deeper mixed formats. Despite upcoming tilts at NYY and at BOS his very attractive 1.24 GB/FB, 2.37 BB/9 and fantastic string of recent performances are difficult to ignore.
The change of address does enhance Lopez's down-the-stretch value. Due to his superb .368 OBP, he should yield appreciable returns in runs and potentially steals as the Brewers' lineup topper. Entering play Sunday, the Swiss Army Knife was the 28th-best middle infielder in the Y! game, nestled between BA destroyers Jimmy Rollins(notes) and Dan Uggla(notes).
• Jonny "Garden" Gomes launched his sixth homer of the season, a monster three-run blast off Seth McClung(notes). Earning additional at-bats with Jay Bruce(notes) sidelined, the legendary man-shield imbiber is someone to keep an eye on. Blessed with above average power (career 14.6 HR/FB%), he has enough lumber to be a resourceful pop source in very deep mixed and NL-only formats. However, because the Reds are actively seeking an outfield upgrade, Gomes' increased PT might be short-lived.
Quick Hitters: Yovani Gallardo(notes) continues to walk a precarious line. Despite netting a quality start, he issued four free passes in six innings. In his past three starts, he's notched a repulsive 7.31 BB/9. … Joba Chamberlain(notes) totaled his finest line since June 1 (6.2 IP, 1 ER, 8:3 K:BB), outdueling Edwin Jackson(notes) for his fifth victory of the season. Though encouraging, the 92 percent-owned Yank will continue to be very inconsistent. … Phil Hughes(notes) extended his scoreless streak to 16.2 innings. Since June 8, he's totaled an 11.1 K/9. … Three more hits for the Club of Chub, Billy Butler(notes). Long-balls continue to be a rarity, but he's been an invaluable BA source in recent weeks. Since July 1, he's totaled six multi-hit games. … Splitting time between third and left, Jake Fox(notes) smacked his fifth homer of the season and drove in four runs. Stubborn Lou needs to give the kid a start at catcher. It's a shame his bat is often wasted on the bench. … Nyjer Morgan(notes) swiped SB No. 27 and 28. On pace for 90 runs and 50 steals, he's a more widely available (67 percent owned) version of Michael Bourn(notes) (91 percent). Hop aboard. … Including today's brilliant effort against the D-Backs, Joel Pineiro(notes) has compiled three wins along with an outstanding 1.41 ERA and 0.71 WHIP since June 18. Believe. … Per John Russell, recently acquired outfielder Lastings Milledge(notes) is "very close" to a promotion. The talented firebrand has notched three straight multi-hit games for Triple-A Indianapolis. … Nelson Cruz(notes) was a late scratch due to a small fracture in his right ring finger. He expects to play through the pain. Prior to the game, reporters noticed an elfish sportswriter emerge from the Rangers locker room holding a hammer. Stranger, upon hearing the news of the injury, Ron Washington was heard cackling loudly.