The running joke at Petco Park today is that the Padres hired a new radar-gun operator because seeing Mat Latos would've been overwhelming for the veteran. See, Latos' fastball races toward 94 miles-per-hour, a rarity for Padres pitching prospects of recent vintage.
If you don't like that attempt at humor, here's another, this one from Brian Giles. "You know why the oyster didn't join the charity? Because he's shellfish."
A few tidbits on Latos. A free spirit, he drives a retooled Nissan that has the steering wheel on the right side. I asked him how that works for him at drive-thrus. Easy, he said. He doesn't go to drive-thrus. Understandable. Latos grew up in Florida. No In-N-Outs there.
On the mound, Latos is a bit unconventional because he has a fairly short stride for a tall guy. "Gives him more downward plane on the ball," said manager Bud Black. The shorter stride, Black said, probably means the 6-foot-5 right-hander relies less on his legs and more on his torso and arm to generate power. No worries, Black said. Success comes in a wide variety of sizes and stride lengths.
Latos, he added, somewhat reminds him of Chuck Finley, another tall guy with a short stride who "threw downhill" and "got on top of the ball."
Finley, too, was a free spirit. And he had very nice career. Here's hoping the same for Latos. He had a nice showing today. Gave up one cheap run, one hard run in his four innings. The 96-mph fastball that Ian Stewart hit 430 feet made the debut more memorable. "(Latos) has a chance," a Rockies evaluator told me afterward. "He has enough fastball, way, way enough. If he comes along with the changeup and breaking ball, he can be really good. I like him."