The Reds desperately needed a dominant right-handed pitcher this season. Enter Mat Latos.
The price to obtain him was high—Cincinnati had to give up three former first-round draft picks and former All-Star Edinson Volquez—but more important than keeping those players was acquiring a pitcher who could take some of the heat off the bullpen by lasting deep into games.
That ability to eat up innings is exactly what makes him such an asset in fantasy.
The 6'6", 24-year-old righty didn't put up jaw-dropping numbers with the Padres in 2011, but he still remains one of the best young arms in the league. Last year, he went 9-14 but posted a 3.47 ERA and pitched 194.1 innings in 31 starts. He also had a 1.18 WHIP, and in all five of his September starts he tallied at least eight K's and went 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA.
Those numbers aren't flukes, either. In just over two seasons in the league, his numbers per nine innings are impressive: He averages 8.65 strikeouts and only 2.83 walks.
One significant concern with Latos, however, is that he's moving from a pitcher-friendly park in San Diego to Cincinnati, which isn't a fly-ball pitcher's park.
Latos still can serve as a solid third starter and won't likely be selected among the top 20 pitchers in most leagues.
Here are a couple of other fantasy sleepers that will succeed in new venues in 2012:
Moving from Minnesota to Arizona should work in the favor of Kubel—and fantasy owners. Chase Field is more hitter-friendly locale than Target Field, which should help the outfielder as he continues to bounce back from a foot sprain that hampered him significantly in 2011, according to KFFL's Nicholas Minnix.
The injury will compel a lot of owners to back off, but before going on the disabled list, Kubel hit .310 with 30 RBIs, five homers and a .465 slugging percentage in 52 games. The 99 games he played were the fewest his fewest since 2006, but an improved hitting approach and change in venue could render him a valuable component of your fantasy lineup.
The Yankees traded this prized catching prospect to Seattle, where he will start off as a designated hitter to rack up at-bats. In 109 games with Triple-A Scranton in 2011, the 22-year-old hit .288 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs. He had a .348 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage before moving up during September call-ups, where he hit .328 with four homers, 12 RBIs and a .590 slugging percentage in 61 at-bats.
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