Mat Latos in his 2012 Spring debut. (Michael E. Keating; Cincinnati Enquirer)

Mat Latos made his Spring debut in a Cincinnati uniform on Tuesday, throwing two scoreless frames. He worked almost exclusively with just two pitches, his fastball and slider, during his first game.

If you missed it at the time of the trade, Redleg Nation had some excellent must-read articles on Latos. Steve Mancuso compiled a very good bio on Latos professional career, contract status, and pitching arsenal while Jason Linden analyzed what the Latos trade meant for the 2012 Reds.

Below you can see Latos professional career numbers. It is worth noting how little time he spent at the minor league level. Latos broke into the majors at the age of 21. Of his 44 minor league games, he appeared in only 9 games above Midwest League level. (The Midwest League is the Dayton Dragons league.)

Latos has a history of great control and an ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. More than half of his games have been pitched on the road, and his success has been the same away from Petco as it has been in his home ballpark. It is a rather small sample size, but his appearances in “homerun ballparks”, defined as Great American Ballpark, Coors Field, and Citizens Bank Park, has been on par with what he has done throughout his career.

Split G IP ERA WHIP HR/9 BB/9 K/9
Minors 44 184.2 2.49 1.061 0.3 2.3 10.5
MLB 72 429.2 3.37 1.154 0.8 2.8 8.7
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
2010 31 184.2 2.92 1.083 0.8 2.4 9.2
2011 31 194.1 3.47 1.184 0.7 2.9 8.6
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
Petco Park 31 185.1 3.11 1.155 0.9 2.7 8.7
MLB Away 41 244.1 3.57 1.154 0.8 2.9 8.6
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
“HR Parks” 8 50.2 3.38 1.026 1.2 2.3 7.5

At the beginning of the 2010 season, John Sickels provided some thoughts on what may become of Latos career. Latos had just barely pitched too many innings the season before to qualify as a prospect.

if Latos does stay healthy, I think he has the natural ability to be a number one or number two starter. If he’d come in under the 50-inning limit, I’d rate him as a Grade A- prospect and would have put him at number four on my Top 50 pitcher’s list.

Two seasons later, Latos has lived up to those high opinions. However, Latos was shocked this offseason to find out that he’d be playing for a different organization in 2012.

“I think for about the first month, I sat there and thought about it and was like ‘Holy [cow], I was traded for four guys. I have to come out and prove this and prove that,'” Latos said. “I started looking at it as if I do something that’s great, if I ever throw a no-hitter, I have to forget about it and work the next day. To be honest with you, I try not to think about it as much as possible.”

In January, while traveling to Cincinnati for the kickoff of the club’s caravan, Latos and his wife had the good fortune of flying on the same plane as Reds manager Dusty Baker.

“He doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody,” Baker said. “Just pitch, and hopefully he gets better through the natural progression of experience and time.”

Various projection systems, courtesy of Latos player page, project Latos to continue to post ERA’s in the low 3.00’s with the Reds.

Projection G IP ERA WHIP HR/9 BB/9 K/9
Bill James 31 211 2.99 1.13 0.7 2.7 8.8
Marcel 29 176 3.22 1.14 0.8 2.7 8.6
ZIPS 32 191.2 3.38 1.17 0.9 2.6 8.9

If Latos does stay healthy, then paired with Cueto, Cincinnati has the two aces they’ve been looking for.

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Good stuff! FWIW, I’d add Arizona, Wrigley, Houston, and Milwaukee as HR friendly parks too. All have pretty good park factors. It doesn’t eliminate the sample size issue, but it will double the number of starts for Latos in his career. Since ’09, he’s 15 starts in those 7 parks:
    96.2 IP
    3.07 ERA
    0.98 WHIP
    1.02 HR/9
    2.23 BB/9
    8.85 K/9

    Obviously in this small sample, adding a few bad offensive teams into the mix will help his numbers, but I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the case here. Cincinnati, Philly, Colorado, Milwaukee, and Arizona all have had pretty good offenses, so it’s really just 3 starts vs Houston and the Cubs combined.

    I expect we’ll see Latos give up 5 or 6 more HR in GABP, but I don’t expect that it will have a dramatic impact on his overall outcomes. The increase HR will likely be balanced by improvements elsewhere in his game based on maturity and experience.

  2. Latos will be a stud for years to come. This park should only prove how elite he really is.

    FYI to all fans who want to purchase MLB2K12, none of the Reds trades or free agent signings are reflected in the game, you have to manually do them yourself. If you play as Latos though, he has killer “stuff”.

  3. This may not be based exactly on rigorous analysis of statistics, but I get a warm, tingly, excited feeling when I see Mat Latos in a Reds uniform and think about the next four years.

  4. Yonder Alonso just doubled over Drew Stubbs’ head off of Jose Arredondo.

  5. @rfay00: I don’t have the game (usually favor MLB The Show myself) but there was a roster update recently (like Mid-February) that should have captured the new roster.

    I think I’m trading getting the new baseball game with my wife in exchange for

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2012 Reds