MLB.com beat writer A.J. Casavell is reporting that El Paso closer Phil Maton is being promoted to the major league club with Kevin Quackenbush’s name noticeably absent from today’s lineup card. This will mark the first time that an A.J. Preller draftee will reach the majors for the Padres as the 20th round draft selection from the 2015 draft will look to bolster San Diego’s struggling bullpen.
After moving quickly through the lower levels of the minors, Maton had a successful cup of coffee with the El Paso Chihuahuas last season before starting the year entrenched as the team’s closer. He’s already appeared in 23 games this season, striking out nearly 30 percent of opposing batters while owning a stellar 2.84 ERA. Additionally, he’s coming off of a streak of nine consecutive scoreless appearances.
Though Maton was a starting pitcher when drafted, it was the high strikeout potential that led the Padres to convert him to a reliever. His repertoire is led by a heater that regularly sits in the mid 90’s and has been so devastating that Jim Callis wrote, “Club officials even go so far as to call it an “invisible fastball,” which speaks to the pitch’s high spin rate and deceptive nature.” You’ll certainly get a look at it soon enough, but here is a snapshot of what you can expect:
So the fastball isn’t Maton’s only whiff inducing pitch as he mixes in a cutter that sits roughly 6-10 mph lower than the fastball. Also, he’s shown improvement with the curveball and will toss a mediocre changeup; yet, with his ability to spin the ball, he’s still potentially has some room to grow in terms of movement on his secondary pitches.
The other thing that Maton does remarkably well is command his pitches; in fact, his fastball is so devastating that when paired with his command, he can hammer the zone without much fear of home runs, allowing a mere 4 home runs in 84 innings. Of the guys who’ve done that in the majors between this year and last, there is not one of them with an era higher than 3.22.
In a continually bleak season, Maton, like Dinelson Lamet, will be yet another glimpse into what is shaking out to look like a very bright future.