On Thursday, the New York Yankees made several pitching moves across the organization as players were being promoted left and right. One of those moves was left-hander Josh Maciejewski being promoted from Short-Season Staten Island to single-A Charleston.
Maciejewski was the Yankees’ 10th Round pick in 2018 out of Charlotte University. He made six appearances (five starts) for Staten Island and was 2-2 with a 2.01 ERA. He had 23 strikeouts to 7 walks in 31.1 innings of work and held opponents to a .159 batting average. Plus, he pitched into the sixth inning or later in four of his last five starts. So, what has been the key to his success?
“Filling up the strike zone with all 3 pitches. Letting my defense do the job. Trying not to walk anyone and that’s just who I am. Fill it up with 3 pitches and let them hit it,” said Maciejewski.
When you watch Maciejewski, he is not going to wow you with his fastball. However, he does a good job of pinpointing his offspeed pitches and pitching to contact. He has a fastball that is between 87-90 miles-per-hour in velocity to go with a slider (80-82 mph) and changeup (78-81 mph).
“Filling up the strike zone with all 3 pitches. Letting my defense do the job. Trying not to walk anyone and that’s just who I am. Fill it up with 3 pitches and let them hit it,” said Maciejewski about his pitch arsenal.
The main pitch that Maciejewski was working on in extended spring was his slider as he has been able to add that third pitch to continue to make the opposition off-balanced in the batter’s box:
“Working on my slider a lot in extended and I think it has got a lot better. It’s been working well for me so far just being able to show the batters that and letting them know that I have that.”
After one of his outings earlier in the month, manager David Adams talked about how Maciejewski’s changeup was key to his success after pitching on 8 days rest:
“Changeup for him is one of his better pitches and he has a nice one. He does a great job utilizing all 3 and it was evident today,” said Adams after Maciejewski’s start on July 8 (6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K).
As far as which pitcher Maciejewski compares himself too, the 23-year-old (turns 24 in August) mentioned current Braves pitcher Dallas Keuchel because of the sinking movement on all of his pitches. On the mound, you can see the resemblance minus the beard when he gets the ball down in the zone effectively.
Growing up, Maciejewski was a Yankees fan who visited both the old and new Yankee Stadium and rooted for Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. So, when New York selected him in the 2018 draft, it was a moment he would never forget:
“I was at home with my parents and it was a pretty surreal experience. I grew up a Yankees fan so it was pretty interesting to be drafted by the Yankees. I wasn’t expecting it and it was nice,” said Maciejewski about draft night.
In his family, Maciejewski comes from a baseball background. His father, Joe, played baseball at NC State. One of the main lessons that his dad taught him that stuck with him both at Charlotte and his pro ball is about what not to show when taking the mound:
“He really taught me to never show any negative emotion and never let people pick up on the fact you are frustrated. Just stay even-keeled and positive no matter what,” said Maciejewski.
During his senior year with the 49ers, Maciejewski had a 2.25 ERA and had 104 strikeouts in 104 innings over the course of 15 starts in Conference USA. For the southpaw, his college experience helped him learn how to face right-handers:
“I think it helped me a lot. Conference USA always has a pretty good hitting league. It really helped me facing right-handed hitters,” said Maciejewski about how pitching in college helped prepare him for pro ball.
In a small sample size, Maciejewski has used that experience well this season. Right-handers in the New York-Penn League hit .169 against him while left-handers hit .133.
While at Charlotte, Maciejewski was both a starter and a closer. In 2017, he was a closer for part of the year in his junior season. Despite the change in roles, it taught him something that has stuck with him as a starter:
“I think going from starter to closer taught me not to lose concentration on any pitch. I used to lose concentration for a pitch and now I am a lot better on not losing concentration on a random pitch,” said Maciejewski.
When it came down to his college decision, Maciejewski liked big cities, so Charlotte was an option for him that wasn’t far away from his home. Plus, he enjoyed pitching in a ballpark where he always had the support of the fans, win-or-lose:
“It’s more of a close-knit family-type atmosphere. Everyone knows you and they are rooting for you to do well. If you do bad, they won’t get on you,” said Maciejewski about the uniqueness of home games at Hayes Stadium.
With Maciejewski moving up to the next level, it is easy for him to get lost in the shuffle with all of the hard-throwing arms the Yankees have at the lower levels. However, when he is getting his offspeed pitches down in the zone, he won’t be overlooked for too long.