Mat Latos Interview

Washington DC: We caught up with Mat Latos, 22, who is fast becoming the San Diego Padres' top starter. Over his last 12 starts he is 9-1 with a 1.46 ERA, including his most recent outing in the series finale against the Washington Nationals.

This year Latos has all that was advertised when San Diego drafted him in 2006 in the 11th-round as a draft-and-follow selection.

What is the biggest reason for your success this year?

Mat Latos: Working with [Darren] Balsley [the Padres pitching coach] is one of the main keys. Just the things that he is preaching to me and the rest of the pitching staff. Also just feeling comfortable around the guys and knowing that I have their support no matter what happens.

When I have spoken with Balsley in the past, he seems pretty direct compared to others. He's pretty short and to the point which must make it easier to concentrate.

Mat Latos: Yeah, he says stuff in the least amount of words possible. He's quick and to the point so you don't have to wonder what he was trying to say.

When I first interviewed you at Broward what impressed me the most was how focused you were on becoming a pitcher, not a thrower. You know you are a big guy with a big fastball you would think at that young age you would be more focussed on blowing people away.

Mat Latos: Everybody who is young and naive would go about it as, ‘yeah, I throw 95 plus and no one is going to be able to hit it' - and truthfully a well located fastball at 95, nine times out of ten the batter isn't going to hit it - but throwing 90 to 93 on a two-seamer with sink that the batter swings at in the first two pitches helps me more so I'm not having to labor for five or more pitches.

What helps the most is more movement on my fastball and better command of my changeup and slider.

You've always had really good command and never really walked that many guys in the minors or college and I'm assuming in high school. Where does that come from?

Mat Latos: I think that came from when I was younger. We had a garage in the back that was concrete and I always got yelled at by my Dad because I would spray paint a square on where I thought the strike zone was and I would throw to it all the time.

I wanted to hit the square with my pitches all the time and it ended up helping me out.

You never get to bat except at Double-A and above. Suddenly you have to face major league pitching and even hit a home run. How do you get used to it?

Mat Latos: Spike [Randy Ready, the Padres' hitting coach] does a really good job with us. Ready is really open minded about the way we hit and I think all five of us can swing a bat and a lot of it has to do with him. I'm really comfortable with him working on our bunting and hit-and run. It really boosts our confidence to know that we have someone like him helping us out.

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