Latos headed to community college

In the eleventh round of the 2006 First Year Player Draft, the San Diego Padres took a chance on highly-regarded high school pitcher Matt Latos, who was committed to the University of Oklahoma for the fall. Their gamble paid off when the righty from South Florida opted for Lake City Community College instead, making him one of the premier draft-and-follow players in the country for next season.

Matt Latos garnered a great deal of attention on the showcase circuit last summer and was considered by many to be the top high school arm at this time last year.

Concerns over his signability and occassional bouts of immaturity on the mound kept him from being selected in the top rounds of the 2006 draft, but Padres' area scout Joe Bochy lobbied for the team to take him midway through the first day based on a possiblity he might not follow through on his plans to become a Sooner.

The Padres negotiated with the big 18-year-old throughout this summer, but he rejected a six-figure signing bonus several weeks ago. While the club was concerned that they might lose him, his decision to enroll at Lake City Community College in Florida will allow them to retain his rights until a week before next year's draft and try to sign him at that time.

"He's got very good stuff," said Padres scouting director Bill "Chief" Gayton. "We'll get to know him better over the next year, but ... some people probably have him as the top guy" whose rights will be controlled next spring.

On draft day, Grady Fuson had said Bochy - the brother of manager Joe Bochy - was "doing backflips" when the club selected the power pitcher.

Latos, listed at six foot, five inches and 205 pounds, has an ideal frame for a pitcher and has been clocked as high as 97 MPH on his fastball, though speeds were down a bit late this spring season. He has thrown two breaking balls in high school, but will probably need to focus on one or the other as he advances and, like so many young pitchers, adapt to the change up as his third pitch.

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