He's been in the bigs for all of one week, but Nick Maton might already be playing his way into a more prominent and potentially more permanent role with the Phillies.
The 24-year-old rookie utilityman made his debut on Monday and hit in each of his first six games, going 11 for 22 with three doubles while batting seventh or eighth. He's the first Phillie to begin his career on a six-game hitting streak since Jimmy Rollins.
Maton's first three starts came at shortstop as Didi Gregorius dealt with elbow soreness and his last three starts have been at second base in place of Jean Segura, who is the only 10-day IL with a quad strain.
Maton's also getting reps at all three outfield spots.
"I told him to take flyballs everywhere," manager Joe Girardi said Saturday. "You never know in the National League game what's going to happen."
This is relevant because the Phillies have gotten next to nothing out of their centerfielders. And while Maton does not project as a big bat, he's been more of a spark at the bottom of the lineup than Roman Quinn, Mickey Moniak or Adam Haseley have been.
On Saturday night, Maton went 2 for 3 with a double and made an important defensive play. Connor Brogdon was on the mound four days after a traumatic outing in which he allowed six runs on two three-run homers. Brogdon's command was not sharp Saturday, either, and he had men on second and third with one out and Charlie Blackmon at the plate in the eighth inning of a three-run game.
Blackmon hit a bullet to Maton's right and Maton made a sliding back-handed grab to nab Blackmon at first. If you have a second baseman with lesser range or instincts, that's a two-run single and the lead becomes precarious.
"He's definitely not afraid," Rhys Hoskins said. "He doesn't lack confidence, which is big in this game. Kid can hit, kid can hit. A lot of us have been pretty impressed by the way he's handled himself on the defensive end as well.
"He's a talkative guy but he's a sponge, he's always asking questions. He's had some success early. It's nice to see that from a young kid."