"He has no limits as to how far he can progress over the next four years," Cartersville head coach Stuart Chester said of the imposing right-hander who's one of a stable of talented hurlers playing for the Purple Hurricanes this season.
Chester said Flatford, who signed a four-year scholarship Thursday with the prestigious Taylor University, a private school located about 70 miles north of Indianapolis, Ind., has command of three pitches and presents quite a challenge for batters since he can use any one of his pitching offerings at any time.
Flatford is coming into his own as a senior for the Canes, already hurling more innings this season than all of last year.
"He's worked hard in the offseason," Chester said, "and he's a vital part of our rotation."
The coach said Flatford also has what he calls "the intangibles" working in his favor. "He's a great kid, high character, a lot of class, just all of the intangibles.
"I wish I had him for four more years."
Flatford said he chose Taylor -- he had three Division I scholarship offers -- because of the competitive brand of ball it plays and also because of its strong academic reputation. The Cane plans to major in broadcast communication.
Flatford said his goal has been to play baseball since he was "about 4 or 5 years old."
"When I was growing up in Florida, I saw a lot of teams play. My dad (Rick Flatford) and I would just hop in the car and we'd catch a baseball game," he said. "I guess that's when I learned to love the game."
He is entering his second year as a member of the Purple Hurricanes. His stats at Cartersville and his travel team entering the season include 18 innings of work, giving up 3 earned runs, 20 strikeouts, 7 walks and a 2-1 record.
Flatford said he is pleased his innings this year already top last year's totals. "I feel like I'm seeing my hard work pay off, and I'm getting to contribute more and more to the team."
He said some of his pitching skills are self-taught -- he used to work on his grips in his room. He said he also threw until the tutelage of his Cane coaches and with the Nelson Baseball Academy, a travel team.
"Coach Chester helped me as a pitching coach," he said. "He's hard on us because he wants the best -- just like I do. I want to leave with another state championship and Cartersville on top again."
Kyle Gould, Tayor University head baseball coach, is one of those who believes Flatford will continue to improve.
"I am looking at him becoming a starter for us," Gould said. "I'm not sure when he will take over that role, though."
Gould said Flatford has a nice selection of pitches and with his size there's a likelihood his fast ball -- pegged between the mid-to-high 80s -- will accelerate in time.
"He has a good slider and the makings of a good changeup, too," Gould said. "I feel he'll be a great fit on the mound, in the classroom and on our team. We're really excited to have him join our program."
Gould said Flatford will be competing with and against the best at the school: Taylor played in the national championship playoffs the past two years, winning 38 games in each of those years.
"We are currently ranked No. 23 in the NAIA," he added.
Gould said Flatford's affiliation with Cartersville helped him, too. "Cartersville is one of the top programs in the nation. We've certainly heard of it in Indiana."