By Jon Mahoney, Special to SI.com, SchoolSports.com
Not surprisingly, scouts began to gather around Coconut Creek to see the pitching phenom. Radar guns were just as common at games as hot dogs and popcorn. For a high school junior, it would have been easy to crack under that kind of intense pressure. But that just isn't in Latos' demeanor.
"My junior year was kind of distracting, but now I just look at it as there are more people back there," says Latos. "Those people are the important ones. I raise it up a notch when they get there."
"To be able to do what he does under the pressure is amazing," adds Davidson. "That's a lot of pressure. He knows people are back there. For him to be able to focus and not let that bother him is a great compliment to him."
Apparently the scouts have liked what they've seen. Though Latos has committed to Oklahoma for college, he's projected as a first-round pick in June's MLB Draft. He says he'll make his decision on whether to play for the Sooners or go the pro route after the draft.
"College is a good thing to come by, but not a lot of people can get drafted out of high school," says Latos. "Getting drafted out of high school has always been my dream. The way I see it, if I don't get drafted in the early rounds, college will give me the opportunity to improve."
Wherever he ends up, Latos will be well prepared both physically and mentally. Physically, Latos is in terrific shape, and Davidson -- like he does for all his pitchers -- makes sure to limit Latos' pitch count to 75-80 pitches per game. In addition, Davidson only uses Latos at designated hitter when he's not pitching so he can rest his arm between starts.
Mentally, Latos' focus is on par with a college veteran. Pitching in Florida against some of the top high school teams in the nation will do that, but it's something Davidson has seen throughout Latos' career.
"He's been a confident kid ever since he walked in here," says Davidson. "Trust me, he wants the ball. He's a competitor and he doesn't like to come out of games. I don't have a problem with that. That's a great quality. It shows he likes a challenge."
"The day I go on the mound, I feel like I'm a businessman and I'm wearing a suit," adds Latos. "I have a job to do, and nothing less is going to come out of me."
After all, as an artist, Latos refuses to settle until the outcome is exactly how he drew it up.