Latos’ Potential Makes Him Keeper League Prize


Jul 20, 2009

We're barely into the second half, and already we've seen some post-All-Star Break surprises. Looking at the Senior Circuit today, here are a group of guys who have caught my eye.

Escobar, SS, Braves: He's been the league's hottest hitter since the break, posting a .500 average with two homers in the span. He's pushed his average for the season over .300 with this recent surge, and if the power sticks around, he could approach 15 homers easily.

Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals: I'm impressed he's been able to sustain his success, and now I'm a believer. He already has four steals in the second half and could be a threat for 50 if the running continues. He's atop a poor lineup, which may suppress his run totals, but the .293 average and .351 OBP are certainly helpful.

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds:  The potential has always been there, but the streakiness kills his owners. His return from a fractured wrist has gone well, with a .349 average and three home runs already in July. At 26, he's at the right age for a breakout.

Mat Latos, P, Padres: I'll help churn the hype machine and let you know about his upper-90s fastball and 4:1 K/BB ratio on display during his Sunday debut. His minor league numbers were eye-popping: 8-1, 1.37 ERA, 73:12 K/BB ratio. Word is he'll be limited to 60 innings in the majors, but they could be special. He's a great add in keeper league and dynasty formats.

No Change
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds: One of the most solid young corner options around, he's kept up his hot hitting since returning from injury, stroking four homers since mid June and keeping his average well over .300. He's been very lucky on balls in play this year (.401 BABIP), so expect regression in his average. He isn't a star yet, but will help you down the stretch.

Mike Cameron, OF, Brewers: A typical Mike Cameron season: hovering around a .250 average (.264 currently), good power numbers (14 homers and 43 RBIs) but with less speed (four steals). His batting eye seems to have improved, a reason for his higher average and OBP. He needs to start running more, but he is 36 years of age.

Cole Hamels, P, Phillies: One of the most puzzling players of '09, Hamels has continued to frustrate his owners. His 4.72 ERA is unacceptable, but the 90:10 K/BB ratio is great. His fastball velocity is still down (90.1 MPH average), but not far off his usual dealings. Count on him only as a number two or three fantasy starter going forward, while hoping for more.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs: I worry about the power returning this year, as he may need to have surgery in the off-season to fully correct his shoulder problem. He's 2-for-11 with a homer since his return, but he's laboring after playing multiple games in a row. Expect a handful of off days as he works his way back to form, with only moderate power production going forward.

Russell Martin, C, Dodgers: What a nosedive he's taken in '09, with a line of .257/2/28, the only consolation prize being his eight steals. His BABIP is .311, so he hasn't been unlucky, just bad. He's awfully young, but has all the wear and tear behind the plate already started to break him down?

Zach Duke, P, Pirates: I don't have faith in him continuing his success, although I tip my cap to him for an outstanding first half. He's a soft tosser (88.6 MPH average fastball), who doesn't strike out enough batters (4.74 K/9) while remaining lucky on balls in play (.274 BABIP). Sell high on him if you can and get a guy with more upside. Odds are great we've seen the best already from Duke in '09.

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