Name: Drew Macias
DOB: March 7, 1983
But first, a little history and current events:
Today's major league baseball player is expected to continually have more in their arsenal than ever before. Days of flashy defenders with little bat are gone. Today is the era of the homer. And players must conform.
Drew Macias came into the 2005 season as a scrawny kid who had some pop, great defensive ability and good instincts. That wasn't enough, even though the Padres love him as a prospect. The Padres wanted to see him pack on some poundage and start taking the ball deep with more consistency.
The trade off was a year of learning with Macias growing into his body, understanding how it affects his swing, his defense, and his speed. He also spent a lot more time out of centerfield, his most natural position on the diamond.
Macias was streaky as a result. He would find his groove for a week and lose it the next. An extra 15 pounds have turned him into a solidly built young man but his swing is still being tinkered with to find the comfort level of the year before. While his power numbers actually dipped it is not a concern. The level of play increases exponentially in Double-A.
"I think it was a learning curve for him," 2006 Mobile manager Gary Jones said. "That is a big jump going to that level from A-Ball. You see guys who make that jump have a few struggles every year."
While he had his ups and downs, Macias fell into some bad habits of chasing pitches outside of the zone, and it all points back to his confidence in a swing that unwittingly changed. He still has a good eye and should adjust as he continues to become comfortable with the person he has grown into.
Macias ended the year hitting .256 – not bad by Southern League standards – but the power numbers didn't come as expected. He notched 30 extra base hits with seven homers.
After tearing through April with a .307 average, Macias hit above .253 just once – a .272 August. He also struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting .222.
Macias' pitch selection wasn't as good as in the past and he took more chances to take advantage of his increase in body mass, resulting in more strikeouts this season than in any other year to date. The trade off would have been acceptable had he connected on more extra base hits.
He also found himself swinging late at pitches and chasing on the outside part of the zone, resulting in more grounders to the right side of the infield. While he has been a proficient opposite field hitter, his inability to stay away from the sliders tailing away took away some of his line drive ability.
"Another kid that is starting to mature and learn his swing," 2006 Mobile hitting coach Arnie Beyeler said. "Again, when he gets ahead in the count and gets some good pitches to hit he can really drive the ball. He really made some improvement this year on using the whole field and the whole thing of quality at bats."
His speed also took a dip. He never possessed above average stealer's speed but this year he lost that first step quickness that used to give him a slight edge on the basepaths.
One thing that hasn't wavered is his ability to read a ball off the bat and move towards the ball with efficiency. Macias remains one of the better defensive outfielders in the system because he does not waste steps with circular routes to the ball. His experience at other positions will also aid his development, as many in the Padres' organization see him as a fourth outfielder that can sub in as needed.
"Drew has played centerfield but has also seen time at the corner outfield positions before," Jones said. "He has probably played more centerfield but guys have to find a way to get used to playing those different positions, especially a guy like Drew who has a chance to play at the major league level. Who is to say that once he gets there he is not going to have to play a corner position. If that is affecting his bat than he won't be at the big league level. I don't think that affected him at all."
"That guy has made more plays behind me than I can count," pitcher Ryan Klatt assured.
Looking ahead, it will be important for Macias to find the trust necessary to elevate his game. He has the tools in place and should benefit heading into next year with the experience at Double-A at just 23.
"Drew Macias has been a solid performer over the years," Padres' scouting director Bill Gayton said. "We expect that to continue."
"He is a dangerous hitter," said Beyeler. "He can drive the ball out of the park and can also bring some speed to the table and is also a solid defensive player. Another kid that hopefully we can see in the big leagues some day pretty soon and has a lot of ability."
ETA: Macias tried to do too much with his newfound weight last season and will keep things simpler as he heads into 2007. He will return to Double-A and look for a promotion to Triple-A before the season is out. Given his proficiency at every position in the outfield, Macias could be in the big leagues as a fourth outfielder by 2008. His bat will determine if he becomes a regular.