Jose Macias is still learning how to pitch, so one can only imagine the sort of numbers he will put up once he has all of his pitches and some experience under his belt.
The native of the Bronx made the transition from position player to pitcher look easy this season for Franklin Pierce College. A shortstop his first two years of school, Macias took the mound by storm, going 9-1 with an 0.87 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts). He tossed a no-hitter in his second start and held opposing batters to a .161 average. He also struck-out 118 while walking only 22 and he gave up only one homerun.
Macias accomplished all of that while being only a two-pitch pitcher (fastball and slider). Now with the A's, Macias is working on a third-pitch (change-up) and continuing his education on the mound.
John Anderson spoke to Macias shortly after he arrived in Arizona and then again this week after his professional debut, a scoreless inning of relief for the AZL A's.
John Anderson: How are things in Arizona?
Jose Macias: They're good. It's hot out here.
JA: Well it's hot back East especially in your old area.
JM: Yeah but it's 115 degrees out here today.
JA: Well that's quite a change from pitching in the early Spring in New Hampshire and New England.
JM: Yeah it is.
JA: Well as I'm on the East Coast I know the baseball program at Franklin Pierce and am intrigued by your story. One year of pitching experience and straight to pro ball. Give me a bit of your background.
JM: I'm from Bronx, New York, and I did pitch in high school but I was a shortstop all my life and pitched a bit my sophomore and senior year of high school. I then went to Monroe(NY) College and played there for one year as a starting shortstop. I hit about .380 and then somehow I got into the NECBL and I went up and played in Keene, N.H. for the Keene Swampbats.
This was in 2007 after my freshman year and I played shortstop for that team and I met a kid that was a pitcher at Franklin Pierce and he asked me what school I was at and whether I wanted to go to Franklin Pierce to be a shortstop. I said I didn't know because I was already at a college. I gave him my number and then Coach King [Franklin Pierce coach] came to a game. He liked how I played and started talking to me and told me about the school and program so I liked what he said and that's how I ended up at Franklin Pierce.
JA: Now Coach King only saw you play shortstop and that is the position he wanted you to play at Franklin Pierce, correct? In the back of your mind were you thinking about pitching or just playing short?
JM: Well at Monroe I was just a shortstop and I thought I could make it as a shortstop.
JA: So your freshman year at Monroe you played short and your sophomore year at Franklin Pierce you started at short but did pitch one inning. How did you get on the mound for an inning?
JM: Well I had gone to a scout day between freshman and sophomore year and I hit 92 MPH on the radar gun so I called Coach King and told him and he asked if I liked to pitch and wanted pitch.
I said I didn't care. He asked if I wanted to be a closer and I thought I could be the shortstop and closer, but I ended up pitching just the one inning.
JA: So the summer after your sophomore year, did you go back and play at Keene in the NECBL?
JM: Yeah I did. I told the Coach at Kene I wanted to pitch a little more because I knew I had the arm and had a better chance of being drafted as a pitcher. So I told him I wanted a few innings.
I pitched about 10 or 11 innings that summer and struck out a lot of guys and gave up like one earned run. So Coach King called me in that fall and asked what I wanted to do for next year and I told him I think I want to be a starting pitcher.
JA: That's great. I spoke with Coach King and he said they knew you had a strong arm and once that got you on the mound they were impressed by how comfortable you were on the mound and how quickly you adapted to it.
JM: It wasn't a hard transition for me because I knew I had the fastball and that I just had to develop one more pitch. I learned the slider and got it down within one month and the slider became my plus pitch. After that, I knew I could throw strikes.
I knew I had the control and I always had the confidence that when I stepped on the mound I could throw strikes and get outs. That's all I try to do.
JA: So your fastball is about 91-92 and the slider has been the pitch that caught most scouts' attention. What third pitch do the A's have you working on?
JM: I've been working on a change-up.
JA: If you can command that third pitch is the organization talking about that moving you from a reliever to a starter?
JM: Yeah. Right now they have me throwing bullpens and haven't really talked to me about whether I'm going to be a reliever or a starter.
JA: Going back to this season, when did the scouts start talking to you about your pro potential?
JM: Right before my first game the Marlins sent me a letter saying that they were interested in me and that I was a candidate to be taken in the draft by them. I heard nothing for two weeks and then I pitched my first game and got a couple letters and after I pitched the no-hitter in my second game scouts started coming around and coming to my bullpen sessions and started watching me and going to my games.
JA: Did the A's show much interest?
JM: A scout was at my no-hitter and [A's scout] Marc Sauer called me once and then they called me two or three days before the draft. I was pretty sure that one of the other teams would draft me but the A's sort of came from out of nowhere.
JA: It is pretty amazing how quickly it all came together for you. Were you aware of the Franklin Pierce program and how well-respected Coach King is by scouts and the number of players they've had drafted in recent years?
JM: I knew nothing about the program. I made some calls to friends and they all said great things about Franklin Pierce and Coach King and the program. Everyone said Coach King was "The Man." That he respects everyone and he works hard and gets a lot of guys drafted and he is one of the best coaches.
JA: Yeah he has a great reputation and has done a great job. So where were you when you were drafted?
JM: I was in New York with my parents.
JA: They must have been thrilled.
JM: Yeah. We had a good idea I'd get drafted that day so we were just waiting for my name. My father was watching on the computer...nervous. I got the call and I told my parents and they started jumping around.
JA: So you signed quickly.
JM: Yeah four or five days.
JA: And you went straight to Arizona.
JM: Yes and I'm just working on my pitches. This is my first year pitching so they want to get my arm strong and also watch my innings.
JA: How has the instruction and treatment been?
JM: It's great. Here they take great care of your arm. They don't want to rush you. They want you to take your time until you are ready. It's a good program.
JA: Yankees or Mets fan growing up?
JM: Mets fan.
Note: This part of the conversation came after Macias' debut on July 10th. He threw a scoreless inning and didn't allow a base-runner.
JA: Jose, saw you debuted last night. How did it feel to be on the mound in a real game?
JM: Felt great and comfortable. I was clocked in the low-90s and my slider was good.
JA: How about the changeup?
JM: I threw it a couple times and it went well and it felt good.
JA: What is the organization's plan for you this year?
JM: I'll probably stay in Arizona. They want me to throw 25 innings and then go on to Instructional League.
JA: Well it's great that you got into a game and good luck for the rest of the year.