As I walk to my seats in the Stars and Stripes Club (thanks Jay), I hear the announcer transport me to my childhood. Starting in centerfield for the San Diego Padres… Tony Gwynn! (Ok, fine, my early childhood before Tony Gwynn was relegated to RF). As I realize that this isn’t Field of Dreams and I’m not Moonlight Graham, I snap back in the game at hand.
Down the road the Washington Nationals will sign the most heralded pitching prospect in the last 25 years, and yes they will sign him. Tonight, the Padres No. 1 prospect was on the mound, 6’5” Mat Latos. After his recovery from from an oblique injury that limited him to 56 innings he returned to the Padres farm system to post a 5-1 record with a 1.91 ERA and a 9 K’s per nine innings. Impressive numbers to say the least.
After Latos’ first pitch twenty people within earshot all said a collective “whoa." The ball snapped in the catchers mitt accompanied by what sounded like a movie sound effect.
Latos sits at 93-95 and has touched 97 a few times. He has good tail on that big fastball and has a good slider with solid depth.
He gave up two solo homers on mistakes he left belt high. Both of those pitches were a result of mechanical errors and nothing to worry about long term.
The only hole in his game is his lack of a great breaking pitch. He flashed a solid curve twice, once getting the strikeout. Without a good breaking pitch, Latos is to rely of his overpowering fastball.
The big knock on Latos going into the 2006 draft wasn’t physical, it was mental. Supposedly he had composure issues and was tough to coach.
I was watching closely after Latos gave up two singles to lead off the fourth. Latos battled with Adam Dunn and coaxed a bad swing on an inside slider… double play. After a walk, he threw fastball after fastball challenging the hitter and eventually getting a lazy fly ball. Not once during the inning did he show frustration. More importantly, not once during the entire game did I see him shake off a call.
Suffice it to say, I was impressed. This kid has top of the rotation pitches and a great frame. I’d be surprised if next year this kid wasn’t in the top 20 in k’s in the majors and on his way to a great career.
A pitcher with this much talent, well he makes a fan say “whoa.”