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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Scouting Report RHP Mat Latos

The 22-year old Latos started the 2009 season at A-ball, and ended it with the San Diego Padres. That should give you a taste of how talented/how much the Padres love this kid. Latos was a 2006 draft pick out of a Florida High School as a draft and follow, but he wound up signing and has progressed through the Padres system very quickly. Injuries hampered him in 2008 (oblique strain), and limited him to 56 minor league innings, but he struck out 69. In his 72 minor league innings in 2009, he struck out 73, and had a 1.375 ERA, while posting a .75 WHIP. Those numbers are stunning, especially for a kid who was 21 years old. He made 10 starts for the Padres last year before being shut down in early September to limit his innings pitched (he didn't throw > 95 pitches in a game last year in the majors). With the Padres he had a 4.62 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, largely due to a significant increase in walks (< 2 W/9 in the minors, 4 W/9 last year). He did win the one start versus the Mets last year in August, as he threw six innings, striking out seven and only allowing one run; four hits and three walks.

What makes Latos special? He's 6'6, so he very imposing on the mound. He throws straight over the top and features a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 and it has the dreaded "late life" (movement). He also throws a sharp, late breaking slider (86 mph) and a plus change-up (84 mph). He throws his fastball and slider 85% of the time, as he should, as they are his two best pitches. This year he is throwing a 2-seam fastball, something he didn't throw last year.

Latos has made 11 starts this year, and is 5-4 with a 3.26 ERA, and 1.06 WHIP. He made national headlines when he threw a complete game and allowed only one base hit versus the Giants on May 13th. His K/9 is back up to 7.6, and he has cut his walk rate down to 2.56 W/9. Although he's cut down his walk rate, he isn't "pounding the strike zone." He actually he throws strikes only 42% of the time (league average is 48%), but he is getting swings on balls out of the strike zone 31% of the time (league average 28%), and also has a great swing and miss ratio (9.3% versus average of 8.3%).  He's a fly-ball pitcher and has allowed 8 HRs in 66 innings. Since May, his ERA is 1.96 (7 starts).

He's a future #1 pitcher and Cy Young contender. As with any young pitcher he still is a little inconsistent, but as he showed versus the Giants, he can absolutely dominate games when he's on the top of his game. Right-handed hitters have a very tough time versus Latos, as they are hitting only .202 during his brief career.

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