Philadelphia Phillies shortstop prospect Nick Maton has often had to adapt on the fly.
He, like most hitters in the early stages of their minor league careers, has had to nail his timing down at the plate. He’s also making the adjustment from JUCO to Class-A ball following a one-year stop at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill.
Sometimes, the adjustments are tough. Maton wasn’t shy to admit that the pitching at the next level is a different story.
Other times they’re easy, such as knowing when your name is going to be called.
Maton had a feeling his phone would ring on the second day of the 2017 MLB Draft, but instead of being stationed at home watching the draft ticker, he was strolling the confines of Petco Park to watch his brother, Phil, a reliever for the San Diego Padres.
“Being able to be out in San Diego to experience that moment with my mom and brother is the best,” Maton told FanRag Sports.
The Phillies drafted the 6-foot-2 infielder, who is represented by ISE Baseball, in the seventh round with pick No. 203.
Things came easy for Maton during his first season of college ball with the Eastern Illinois University Panthers, when he was named to the Ohio Valley Conference All-Freshman team after hitting .299 with 19 extra-base hits. He improved with LLCC when he hit .408 with eight homers and 46 RBIs while swiping 33 bases over 49 games.
As Maton knows, it’s a bit of a jump from community college to the minors. It was more evident when he began the season with the Williamsport Crosscutters on a 1-for-24 slide.
“The transition from JUCO ball to the minors is an extreme one, so I knew it was going to take me a while to be able to get my timing where it needs to be with pitchers in minor league ball,” he said. “That has been the hardest thing to switch over, but everything else has been a smooth transition.”
It didn’t take long for Maton to get back on track — since the slump, he’s 8-for-18. Even when he’s not hitting, he’s making up for it in other areas, patrolling the middle infield with style. He made waves when he made a stellar grab to close the deal for the Crosscutters in his first game as a pro.
Phillies seventh-round pick Nick Maton made a ridiculous diving catch for the Crosscutters on Monday for the game's final out pic.twitter.com/6kFpHCLmjW
— Mitch Rupert (@Mitch_Rupert) June 27, 2017
“It definitely was a good thing to have a decent game to start off my career and get my feet wet,” Maton said. “Starting with a solid game really helped with the mental side showing that I could compete at this level.”
Maton will have the resources necessary to succeed in the farm system. His brother is an immediate outlet and living proof that playing Major League Baseball is more than just a pipe dream, even as a long shot.
Phil Maton was a 20th-round selection two years ago and is already one of the brightest young pieces the Padres have this season, striking out 14 batters against a lone walk through his first 12 innings of major-league action.
And whenever the young Maton hits a hurdle, he knows he has someone to reach out to.
“The main thing that Phillip has told me is find fun with everything you do because it’s a grind and they are long days and long seasons and if you don’t have fun you’ll find yourself slumping quick.”
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