This season figured to be a roller-coaster ride for pitcher Jose Macias. An 18th-round selection in the 2010 amateur draft, the former infielder only had one season of pitching experience as a junior at Franklin Pierce University.
But the Oakland brass has certainly not been afraid to push the 22-year old early in his professional career, sending him to a full-season affiliate last summer and bringing him back to the Midwest League in 2011 after a solid spring.
Macias' first full professional season has played out as expected. At times he has looked like the best pitcher on Burlington's pitching staff, but on other occasions has been one of the most hittable.
One positive is the 6-2 right-hander appears to be finishing strong, putting together back-to-back quality outings for the Bees. In two road starts at Peoria and Wisconsin, he allowed just two earned runs 12 innings and picked up victories in both games.
"It's given me a lot of confidence," said Macias. "I never really doubted myself and knew I could do a lot of stuff, but that right there showed me I could really do it at this level. I'm excited about my next outing and trying to do the same thing."
Macias will try to build on his recent run of his success, after struggling through the middle part of the MWL slate. He posted a sub-1.00 ERA in two May starts, but lost his feel in early June and was sent packing for Vermont in the New York-Penn League.
He got back to the basics with Lake Monsters pitching coach John Wasdin and posted a 2-2 record and 3.27 ERA and struck out 21 batters in 22 innings for Vermont before being summoned back to Burlington.
"When I got sent back down, I didn't take it in a bad way but rather as a learning process," Macias said.
"All of the coaches there tried to help me with whatever I needed to do. They kept on top of me and made sure I do what I have to do.
"I needed to better mix my pitches – fastballs and change-ups. I needed to get hitters off-balance. I'm not an overpowering thrower, so I have to mix all my pitches in order to make them guess what I'm throwing. I'm using my fastball the first couple innings and then throw those change-ups and sliders later on to keep them off-balance."
Macias said his fastball clocks between 88-90 MPH, so he's at his best when he's fooling hitters with the change-up.
"I've worked a lot on that pitch," Macias said.
"Last year was my first year ever pitching and I never had a change-up. I knew what I had to do – play that game with them. You can throw 99, but if that's all you throw you're still going to get hit. You need to mix all your pitches, have control and command of all your pitches."
The Venezuelan native, who moved with his family to the Bronx, New York, as a 12-year old, has had a lot on his plate through the first 12 months of his career as he learns how pitch. Thankfully, he's been able to learn a new position and not deal with the language barrier many of his fellow countrymen grapple with.
"It was a big difference with the English, but I managed to learn my stuff and tried to be successful in this country," Macias said.
"I see a lot of the Dominican and Venezuelan guys who come here and they don't know any English. I know what they're going through because I went through it. I've tried to help them as much as I can."
Macias likes how he's progressed this summer through the lower rungs of the A's organization.
"I'm very excited and proud of what I've done this year," he said. "I just need to keep working hard, because you can always do better than what you're doing. I'll keep my head up and keep giving my best effort."