Top Two-Way Standout Prefers The Mound

The feeling came at a very young age. The moment he saw it he knew it was for him. Call it luck, call it instinct, call it a child being a child, but Matt Latos - one of the top high school pitchers heading into next June's MLB Draft - knew during his childhood days what he wanted to accomplish.

"My dream is and always will be to play in the major leagues," Latos told the Network. The right-hander from the sunshine state thinks back to how he got into the game while he was attending elementary school.

"I was leaving school one day and was ready to meet my mother who was picking me up, and I saw it." Latos said, referring to a flyer that was posted in his school about a baseball team that was forming.

"I saw the word ‘baseball', and I immediately picked up the flyer and ran to my mom. The next day she signed me up and I was playing baseball."

Scouts view Latos as a successful pitcher in professional baseball because of his frame and easy delivery. The high school senior features a two seam and four seam fastball. Latos also throws a curveball, changeup and slider. Scouts have clocked Latos' fastball as high as 97 MPH, although his velocity dipped to the mid-90s over the summer months.

"My fastball ranges in the 92 MPH range," said Latos. "I could get it as high as 95 and even 97."

Although Latos has heard he could have a future as a position player, because of his power potential, he is focused on remaining on the mound, and does not have any intentions of making a career as a hitter.

"I do bat in high school, but down the road I view myself strictly as a pitcher" the right-hander said. "I am working on my changeup at this point, because I know I have to improve it at the next level."

The Coconut Creek High School senior is aware of the career choice he must make in six months, when the 2006 major league baseball draft occurs. Draft experts view Latos, rated in the top 10 among all high school seniors, as an early round pick, and possibly a top 20 selection.

"If I get drafted high and the offer is reasonable, I would love to go," Latos said regarding a chance to play professional baseball.

For now, the 17-year-old has committed to play for the Oklahoma Sooners, and cites pitching coach Fred Corral as the main reason.

"He [Fred Corral] is one of the best pitching coaches in the country. My advisors also know him very well, and having one of the best pitching coaches in the country would only help me to grow as a pitcher."

Oklahoma, however, was not the first choice for Latos. Being from Florida, the right-hander wanted to stay close to home and had pegged the University of Miami as his top choice. Miami did show interest, however, as Latos described it, "in the end it didn't work out."

Early in September Latos had an experience he will never forget. While attending a game between the Florida Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, he got the opportunity to talk with Randy Messenger, a pitcher that made his major league debut with the Marlins in June.

"While talking with him, I just saw myself through him so much. He grew up playing baseball at a young age, always knew he wanted to make it to the major leagues, and thinks about the game the same way I do."

"My goal is to play for the hometown Marlins."

Will Latos reach the majors before the Marlins leave Florida?

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