Name: Drew Macias
DOB: March 7, 1983
Several sparkling plays in the outfield got him noticed early in the year, and he was rewarded at the end, although he did not net any at-bats with the San Diego Padres after a late season call-up, seeing action as a pinch-runner and scoring a run.
Always a steady defender, Macias had lost a step the previous year but worked hard on maintaining his agility and litheness during the off-season, coming into 2007 bigger, stronger, and quicker.
As a result, his routes became as crisp as they were two years ago when he was a still a scrawny kid that had yet to reach physical maturity.
Over the last two years, Macias has packed on 25-30 pounds. The first year, it took away his speed. But, he worked hard to regain his agile ways and it showed.
Macias also worked hard on his strike zone judgment. While he has never truly been a free swinger, Macias was prone to swinging at pitches that were outside his comfort zone. This year, he tightened up the strike zone and looked for his pitch to hit.
It didn't translate to hits this season, as the outfielder batted .251 in Double-A Mobile, hitting just .227 at his home park of Nelson Wolfe Stadium in San Antonio, a known pitcher's park. Coaches hailed his work, however, and noted that he stung the ball hard – it simply wasn't finding the holes.
"He actually swung the bat much better than his numbers showed," former San Antonio and current Fort Wayne hitting coach Tom Tornicasa said. "He hit a lot of balls hard – it was just one of those years for him. He made good, solid contact and his walks were up. A lot of the balls he hit wouldn't seem to find any holes. He had a three-week period where he was one of our hottest hitters but had three hits – he was like 3-for-35, but he was actually swinging the bat well.
Always ready to swing the bat, Macias toned down his game and didn't try to do too much. If the ball was in a zone he felt comfortable swinging at, Macias would drop the bat head. If it fell outside that area, he was more than willing to take a free pass.
Where he had a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the past, Macias was almost even in the category this past year, drawing 72 walks compared to 78 strikeouts.
"Drew is solid - the big improvement for him this year – and he is an aggressive hitter – is he learned to accept his walks, which will help him out along the way," said Tornicasa. "He hit better pitching – guys that are around the plate, he has always hit those guys for the fact that he is aggressive and you throw him a good fastball he is ready to swing the bat."
"He came up to Triple-A and handled himself real well with the bat and in the outfield," former Portland hitting coach Jose Castro said. "He did a very good job for us. A quiet competitor. He goes after it and works hard. His early work – he puts his time in and has a lot of time for the game. He goes about it in a very professional manner."
At the dish, Macias keeps his head stable and his body has limited movement in a relaxed fashion. He has a calm demeanor he brings to the game and little affects him in an adverse fashion.
He doesn't look at the lows and hold it tight. He goes into each game with the same confidence, believing he can hit.
The one thing lacking in his game has been a power explosion. While he has gained weight the past two years, Macias' power numbers have stayed the same. He hit 10 homers this past season, a career-high in five minor league seasons, but that number will have to increase for him to earn playing time at the highest level.
Lacking an uppercut swing, Macias has a line-drive approach that works well at hitting the gaps. At some point, however, Macias must take the next step and translate his added girth to homer potential.
The California native has an easy swing but will be prone to streaks. In spring, Macias was hitting the ball well but slowed down when he arrived in Double-A San Antonio. He began getting out of his element by reaching for balls he would normally stay away from.
Going to Triple-A Portland, Macias began to get on track. Part of that was a renewed focus at the plate, a feeling that he belonged in his new environment and the better league. He carried that through when he was sent back to Double-A later in the year, understanding he needed to keep the focus through each game during the dredges of the season.
Macias can play all three outfield positions and play them well. He has solid range, tracks balls in flight, and is a solid route runner. His smarts patrolling the outfield is apparent in how he attacks the ball, plays it off the wall, and hits his cutoff man.
His arm is a tremendous plus tool. He has a cannon and is very accurate with his throws. With 20 outfield assists this past season, Macias led the system in that category.
"There is no question that Drew can play defense at any level – and throwing," former San Antonio and current Portland manager Randy Ready said. "He led the organization in assists. Very consistent outfielder – can play them all."
Macias is a tick above average as a runner but does not have base-running speed. He is slow out of the gate in his breaks towards second and needs a good jump to take a base.
"Drew is a great kid - I love the kid - I think he can go up to the big leagues in a pinch and do an adequate job," former Padres minor league field coordinator and current MLB scout Bill Bryk said. "I don't see him as being an everyday guy, even though he is a steady outfielder, getting the most out of what he has.
"I have had him as a prospect in the past and would certainly love to see him be a contributor, but he hit .240 in Double-A and that is not going to cut it in the big leagues."
"Offensively, he needs to create some more consistency in his approach," Ready said. "No matter where he is hitting in the lineup, he has to make contributions. Basically that is it. Once you are consistent they can't hold you back."
ETA: Macias is an excellent defensive outfielder but the hitting consistency has never come around the way he and the Padres expected. Power has also been a question mark for the left-handed hitter. If he can add those elements to his game, Macias will play a pivotal role at the big league level.
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