Padres Sign Latos, Beat Bucs

It’s not often that a 9-0 victory takes a backseat to a draft signing. Then again, it’s not often that the Padres sign a guy like Matt Latos.

In case you missed it, the Pads and Latos agreed to terms late Wednesday evening. Jim Callis at BA has the bonus at $1.25 million, well off what Latos reportedly had been seeking.

Needless to say, I am beyond fired up about this signing. Latos, who is scheduled to begin his pro career at Eugene, Oregon (road trip!), immediately becomes the best pitcher in the system.

On a more pimpalicious note, I’ll be liveblogging the MLB draft next week over at Knuckle Curve. As a sneak preview, I’ve thrown together a little something on Latos. If you’re geeking out on the draft, just know that you’re not alone. ;-)

So. The game (recap | boxscore).

The Padres scored two runs over the first seven innings, and seven over the final two. This holds no significance whatsoever, but it amuses me. Now fetch me some grapes.

Anyway. What’s to say? Chris Young dominated the team that originally drafted him (2000, third round), spinning seven scoreless innings. Even better, he used just 86 pitches in the process. Only once this season has Young thrown fewer pitches in a game (84 over two innings on April 15 at Los Angeles).

In fact, Wednesday marked the second straight start that Young worked seven innings while keeping his pitch count below 100. That’s a nice combination. If it weren’t for Jake Peavy (4-0, 0.79 ERA, .164/.218/.207), Young would get serious consideration for Pitcher of the Month in May (4-1, 1.13 ERA, .173/.250/.252).

Mike Cameron collected three hits, raising his May numbers to a spiffy .273/.345/.495. Khalil Greene added two knocks, including an eighth-inning grand slam that effectively ended the game.

Heck, even Justin Hampson got to pitch an inning. I don’t know how he and Kevin Cameron are able to stay so sharp despite almost never getting the call. A day after Cameron made his first appearance in 2 1/2 weeks, Hampson threw 17 pitches to end a 10-day drought.

Hey, we’ve got 12 pitchers on the staff. Might as well use ‘em…

Padres Prospect Report

by Peter Friberg

You will not see the original preamble in this location. It has been removed by popular demand. I wonder if you even noticed…

AAA

Clay Hensley: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO, 0 HR

AA

Will Venable: 5 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 3 RBI; 2B, 3B, HR – cycle!
Chase Headley: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; 2 BB, SO

High-A

David Freese: 5 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 0 RBI; 3 2B, SB
Craig Cooper: 5 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 3 RBI; 2B, 3B, 2 SO

Low-A

Cedric Hunter: 4 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2 2B, CS

Commentary:

Obviously the big news today was Matt Latos’ signing. Latos is getting stiff competition from Chase Headley (.341/.423/.584) but he’s easily one of the top contenders for the best player in the Padres minor league organization. Now keep in mind that based on talent, Latos would probably go in the 20-40 range in this draft if he was available. Add in the fact that the Padres have the 23rd and 40th picks in this draft (not to mention the 46th, 57th, 63rd, and 64th picks) and it’s easy to see why 2007 is such a huge year for the organization.

Back to Latos: Earlier this week I broke down the competition for the starting position players in 2011. Here’s the likely 2011 rotation:

SP1: Jake Peavy
SP2: Chris Young
SP3: Matt Latos
SP4: Cesar Carrillo
SP5: Wade Leblanc

Clay is not performing like he wants to pitch in a big-league rotation.

[Ed note: On the bright side, reports are encouraging.]

Will Venable and David Freese deserve big congrats on their days: a cycle and a 5-for-5 night, respectively.

Cedric Hunter, a lefty, has been destroying left-handers (.377/.434/.493) this season but has struggled against right-handers; after the two doubles Wednesday night (off a RHP) he’s up to .228/.307/.298 in 114 AB.

Thanks, Peter! Feels good to have Latos in the fold. I’m getting psyched for next week’s draft.

While we’re waiting for that to happen, the Padres seek yet another series victory in Thursday evening’s finale. Greg Maddux looks to turn things around against the eminently beatable Shawn Chacon. Game starts at 4:05 p.m. PT; you know the rest…