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A New Era to Begin on Sunday for San Diego Padres

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IJuly 17, 2009

The San Diego Padres have been looking for that spark, that one something that will make this team come out from the cellar of the NL West. 

That spark could very well come on Sunday afternoon when San Diego's top pitching prospect, Mat Latos, is expected to be called up to make his major league debut at Petco Park against the Rockies.

As the Padres' radio play-by-play guy Ted Leitner is so famous for saying, "Mat, we're all counting on you."  If you've never heard Leitner say that, it's actually a lot funnier than it looks on paper.

Latos will be called up after making four appearances, two starts, for Single-A Fort Wayne (3-0, 0.36 ERA) and nine appearances, all starts, for Double-A San Antonio (5-1, 1.91 ERA).

Talk about pressure.  Latos goes from facing a lot of guys that are right out of college or trying to prove themselves and work up the big league ladder, to facing guys like Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes, a far cry from what the right hander has become accustomed to.

The Padres have tried this jump before in 2008, bringing up second baseman Matt Antonelli, but he struggled mightily and was sent back to the minors before the end of the season.

It's a huge risk they're taking bringing up their top pitching prospect, but the feeling in the front office has to be the fact that they want to know if Latos can handle the big leagues and, if so, could he be added to the Padres' rotation that already boasts Jake Peavy and Chris Young in 2010?

Latos is used to success and he's used to winning, but coming to a team that hasn't had a lot of success since 2008, you have to wonder what that will do to his confidence when he takes the mound every fifth day. 

For now, the Padres will hand him the ball on Sunday and watch in anticipation, as will all Padre fans, as the young right hander takes on the Colorado Rockies.

Will he show the promise that Jake Peavy showed so many years ago when Peavy made his debut against the New York Yankees?  It will be an interesting afternoon at Petco Park.

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