Padres right-hander Mat Latos makes his big-league debut at Petco Park against the Rockies, Sunday, July 19, 2009
Right-hander Mat Latos, one of the better pitching prospects in baseball and the best the Padres have seen since Jake Peavy first arrived in San Diego, made his big-league debut Sunday afternoon at Petco Park against the Rockies. The 21-year-old Latos, who started the season in the Midwest League and who has a total of 47 innings above Low A-ball under his belt, was on a pitch count and worked just four innings.
According to the stadium scoreboard, Latos’ fastball ran 91-96 mph most of the afternoon, with a few pitches touching 98. Thanks in large part to Todd Helton, who drew a 12-pitch walk, Latos needed 25 pitches to get through the first inning.
Latos leaned heavily on his fastball early, occasionally mixing in the curveball and changeup. He allowed his first run in the third on a bunt single (which appeared to be a makeable play by Chase Headley, who hasn’t seen much action at the hot corner over the past couple years), sacrifice bunt, stolen base, and throwing error.
The next inning, Latos gave up his second run, a 430-foot homer to right-center off the bat of Ian Stewart. As Helton had in the first, Stewart got into a good count and then fouled a few pitches off before resolving the plate appearance. The pitch Stewart hit was a 96-mph fastball down the middle and he got all of it.
Latos was pulled after the fourth inning. He threw 75 pitches, 51 for strikes, and struck out four batters (all in the first two frames, all swinging). He looked comfortable on the mound, with the main negatives being an inability to resolve at-bats quickly (75 pitches, 16 batters faced) and perhaps an over-reliance on the fastball, which he threw 80% of the time.
Still, the stuff was there, and the command was better than you might expect from a young pitcher with such little experience. A kid who has logged fewer than 200 professional innings should have work to do, which Latos clearly does. That being said, as a foundation on which to build, he could do a lot worse.
Latos, Frame by Frame
I can’t swear to the gun’s accuracy, but here is what I picked up from watching the telecast when I got home: