Throughout spring training, Phil Maton’s name was heard often from scouts, analysts, and coaches, in praise of his high-spin fastball, improving command, and fearless mound presence. Now he gets to take those skills to the big league, as the team looks for options to fortify their struggling bullpen.
Since being selected by the Padres in the 20th round of the 2015 draft, Maton has dominated at every level, earning recognition throughout the offseason as a budding bullpen anchor. The righthander’s main weapon is a four-seam fastball that sits in the mid-90’s with a remarkably high rate of spin, not unlike his southpaw counterpart Ryan Buchter. A high-spin four-seamer doesn’t drop as it reaches the plate, so it appears to “jump” from the hitter’s perspective. It’s a formidable pitch, especially when he commands the top part of the zone. Not only does he have one of the highest spin rates around on his four-seam fastball, but he releases the ball closer to the plate than all but a few MLB pitchers, which makes his velocity effectively seem quicker to opposing hitters.
To make room for Maton on the 25-man and 40-man rosters, reliever Kevin Quackenbush was optioned to El Paso for the umpteenth time this season and swingman Jake Esch was designated for assignment. Quackenbush has been serviceable while filling his punch card on the El Paso Express, while Esch has been roughed up both in El Paso (7.71 ERA) and in his brief MLB stint this year, where he walked the only two batters he faced. If Esch clears waivers, he may be retained by the team as a minor league piece.