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Maton surprised by promotion to big leagues

Hard-throwing righty is the Padres' No. 16 prospect
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- When Phil Maton's phone buzzed Saturday with a call from a number he didn't recognize, he had no idea it was the one he had spent his career waiting for.

On the other end of the line was Triple-A El Paso manager Rod Barajas, who called Maton to tell him he had been promoted to the Padres. The Padres optioned right-hander Kevin Quackenbush to El Paso and designated righty Jake Esch for assignment to clear space for Maton, who has posted a 2.84 ERA with 13 saves for the Chihuahuas.

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SAN DIEGO -- When Phil Maton's phone buzzed Saturday with a call from a number he didn't recognize, he had no idea it was the one he had spent his career waiting for.

On the other end of the line was Triple-A El Paso manager Rod Barajas, who called Maton to tell him he had been promoted to the Padres. The Padres optioned right-hander Kevin Quackenbush to El Paso and designated righty Jake Esch for assignment to clear space for Maton, who has posted a 2.84 ERA with 13 saves for the Chihuahuas.

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"I was just completely surprised, to be honest," Maton said Sunday before the Padres faced the Royals.

"I was just honestly very focused on putting up zeros in Triple-A and kind of got lost in that. I was just completely blindsided. Very excited to be here."

Maton, 24, quickly called his parents, who will be in San Diego on Monday in time for the Padres' game against the Reds. He had friends from his time at Louisiana Tech in attendance Sunday as well.

Maton, the Padres' No. 16 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, didn't have to wait long for his debut. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Royals, beginning his career with a strikeout of Lorenzo Cain before quickly retiring Eric Hosmer and Drew Butera and exiting to a standing ovation at Petco Park.

"It just didn't seem real," Maton said afterward. "… It was incredible. I couldn't believe the amount of cheering there was. That was so stinkin' cool. To get to do my debut here, at home, couldn't have asked for anything better."

The Padres drafted Maton in the 20th round of the 2015 Draft after his senior season at Louisiana Tech. He went undrafted out of high school and after his junior year in college.

Relying primarily on his high-spin fastball, the 6-foot-3 Maton quickly rose through the system, spending most of 2016 with High Class A Lake Elsinore before serving as El Paso's closer as the team won the Pacific Coast League title. He has 1.89 ERA across three Minor League seasons, striking out 167 in 109 2/3 innings.

"I think Phil Maton changes the dynamic of the 'pen in a fairly huge way right now," Padres manager Andy Green said. "To have another righty that you can look down at and say, 'Hey, in leverage situations, we can hand him the baseball and have belief that he's going to get the job done consistently.'

"In many senses, we've been waiting for him to arrive for a while."

Maton struggled early this season, but he hadn't allowed a run in his past nine appearances in Triple-A, spanning 10 1/3 innings. Green said an improved slider aided Maton's rise. Overall, he had a 2.84 ERA in El Paso with 13 saves.

"I think last year, it was literally put down the 'one' finger and know that he's going to throw a fastball by everybody," Green said. "Even the best of the best at the Major League level -- they have the best extension, the best spin rate, the best location, the best life to the fastball -- they still throw another pitch from time to time."

For a Padres bullpen that has thrown the fourth-most innings in baseball going into Sunday's finale, Maton provides immediate relief, which excites Green.

Worth noting

• The Padres reinstated right-hander Carter Capps from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to El Paso. They also outrighted right-hander Tyrell Jenkins to Triple-A.

• Despite a rough outing Saturday against the Royals, rookie right-hander Miguel Diaz will remain in the Padres' rotation, Green said.

Nathan Ruiz is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

San Diego Padres