Oakland A's Prospect Profile: Jose Macias

One of the early stories of Oakland A's big league spring training has been the development of position player-turned-pitcher Sean Doolittle. A's minor league right-hander Jose Macias knows all about making that switch. We take a closer look at Macias, who has gone from light-hitting college infielder to effective professional pitcher in just two years.

Player Info
Name: Jose Macias
Date of Birth: 07/18/89
Height/Weight: 6'2''/180
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: Selected in the 18th round of the 2010 draft by the Oakland A's


Background

Macias' path to professional baseball was an unusual one. A native of Venezuela, Macias and his family moved to New York when he was in junior high school. He spent some time playing shortstop and pitching in high school, but when he began his collegiate career, he was strictly an infielder. While playing for Monroe College in New York as a freshman, Macias hit .373. That strong season earned Macias a spot in the summer New England Collegiate Baseball League. Through a connection at the NECBL, Macias garnered the notice of Franklin Pierce University, and he transferred to the school for the 2009 season.

Macias spent the 2009 season as the shortstop for Franklin Pierce, but he hit only .266, although he showed promise defensively. He began experimenting with pitching during the summer leagues before the 2010 campaign and the FPU coaching staff shifted Macias into their starting rotation for the 2010 season.

That decision proved to be fortuitous for the Ravens. Macias flashed a low-90s fastball and a good slider right away and found immediate success on the mound. He would finish his only full collegiate season as a pitcher with a 9-1 record and an 0.87 ERA. Macias demonstrated that he could throw strikes consistently, walking only 22 in 92.2 innings and striking out 118.

Despite being only a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and slider) and having only one year of pitching experience under his belt, Macias was taken by the A's in the 18th round of the 2010 draft. The A's have been careful with Macias' development the past two seasons, having him focus extensively on adding a change-up to his pitching arsenal.

Macias spent most of his 2010 debut season with the A's Rookie League team in Arizona. He breezed through 14 AZL innings, posting a 1.29 ERA with an 11:3 K:BB ratio. The A's gave Macias a look with the full-season Low-A Kane County Cougars at the end of the season and he ran into his first speedbumps as a pitcher, allowing five runs on 10 hits and three walks in seven innings with the Cougars.

The A's kept Macias at extended spring training to begin the 2011 campaign. There he impressed the A's coaching staff with his improved secondary pitches and his ability to hit his spots. Oakland sent Macias out to Low-A Burlington in late May. He pitched well in his first two starts for the Bees but lost his feel for the strike-zone and for mixing his pitches in early June, and the A's sent Macias down to the short-season New York-Penn League to start for the Vermont Lake Monsters.

It wasn't long before the A's brass realized that Macias was too advanced for the New York-Penn League. After four starts during which Macias posted a 21:6 K:BB ratio and a 3.27 ERA, Macias was brought back up to Burlington and he would spend the rest of the season as part of the Bees' rotation. After his brief stint with Vermont, Macias had a 3.28 ERA with a 44:12 K:BB ratio in 57.2 innings. He would finish the year with a 3.46 ERA and a 62:18 K:BB ratio in 80.2 innings with the Bees.


Scouting Report

If there is one trait that encapsulates Macias as a pitcher it is that he is a quick study. Whenever he has been presented with a new challenge, he has risen to that challenge with relative ease. Last year, Macias set out to incorporate a change-up into his repertoire, a pitch he had just learned after joining the A's in 2010. The change-up quickly became a solid weapon for Macias, who showed sophistication on the mound by using his change-up and slider in fastball counts. He also showed resilience, bouncing back from a rough start to his month of June to pitch well the rest of the season.

Macias isn't an overpowering pitcher, but he can keep his fastball in the 89-91 MPH range and he spots it well. His slider is his best pitch and the change-up showed a lot of promise in 2011. Macias can locate all three pitches and he walked only 24 in 102.2 innings last season. He is an excellent athlete and he has a smooth, repeatable delivery.

The right-hander has the height to be a starter, but he is still filling out his frame. There may still be room for him to add some velocity to his fastball as he matures physically. Although Macias is already 22 years old, he has a lot less mileage on his arm than most pitchers his age and should have plenty of years of pitching ahead of him. Macias has been a starter since he made the transition to the mound, and with his command and the addition of his third pitch, he is likely to remain a starter for now. It wouldn't be surprising to see the A's work with Macias to add a fourth pitch – perhaps a cut fastball – given how quickly he has been able to make other adjustments.


Outlook

Macias will be battling this spring for a spot in the High-A Stockton Ports' starting rotation. The Ports figure to have a talented starting five, but Macias has a strong chance of landing in that rotation thanks to the way he finished his 2011 campaign with the Bees. A flyball pitcher, Macias will be tested in the hitter-friendly California League, especially in the smaller Southern California ballparks.

Despite having only one full season of pitching under his belt, Macias looked strong throughout the 2011 campaign and should be able to shoulder a full load of innings in 2012. Between extended spring training and the regular season, Macias threw roughly 125 innings last year. If healthy, he should have an opportunity to reach the 140+ innings mark this season.


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