Padres rookie Mat Latos will make his sixth major league start tonight in St. Louis. Latos is currently 4-1 with a WHIP of 0.94, giving everyone a glimpse of what his future his in the big leagues might be like. He was an 11th round draft pick out of Broward College in 2006, and has dominated professional hitters since then.
Latos has a classic pitcher’s frame. He’s tall, lean, and uses his height to throw the ball downhill, creating a difficult hitting angle. Latos doesn’t use his legs to drive towards home plate, preferring to just fall towards the batter and let gravity do the work. This makes his delivery looks a little uncomfortable, since he isn’t using enough of his body to support his tattooed pitching arm.
Latos tries to work the corners with a fastball that flies in the low-mid 90s. He has shown the ability to pitch consistently at 92-94 MPH, yet save two or three more MPH for the David Wrights of the world. When thrown glove side, the fastball often gets some natural cutting action, which can make the pitch sail off the plate.
Mat’s strikeout pitch is his 12-6 curveball. The curve acts like a true drop ball, falling straight down as it approaches home plate, getting very little horizontal movement.
Latos rounds out his three-pitch repertoire with a straight change-up. He’s not afraid to use the change-up, but he hasn’t shown me great command of it yet. He has a tendency to pull it towards his glove side, which can give it some natural cut, like the fastball.
Latos doesn’t look like the most athletic guy out there, but I have noticed him covering first base properly, and has fielded a throw from the second baseman, making me think he’s capable of fielding his position.
There is no way that Latos can keep up this current run of success forever, but if he can find a quality third pitch to go with his plus fastball and curveball, he will be a consistent force.
Tonight Latos goes against the St. Louis Cardinals, in arguably his toughest start yet. I’m predicting that he finally gets hit around a bit, and will struggle to get through five innings.
Sven Jenkins is the creator of 60ft6in.com and does freelance work for STATS, LLC.