Last Wednesday in Cleveland, Phil Maton made his usual entrance from the bullpen, unceremoniously striding in from somewhere behind the outfield wall in the middle of a sixth inning jam.
At first blush, Maton is your ordinary reliever; at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he was taken in the 20th round of the 2015 draft out of Louisiana Tech to little fanfare. He signed with the Padres for an undisclosed amount under $100,000 and didn’t even receive a draft scouting report from Baseball America. Maton rolled through the minors, however, feasting on younger, less experienced hitters with a typical relief pitcher arsenal, a fastball and slider. He reached the big leagues after just two full minor leagues seasons.
To the naked eye, Maton’s first pitch on Wednesday night, a 94 mile-per-hour heater to Jason Kipnis, taken for a strike right near the outside edge, looked pretty darned ordinary itself.