Vancouver Canadians pitcher Adam Macko takes the ball in this instalment of C’s Chat.

C's Chat

The Slovakian southpaw was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade with the Seattle Mariners on November 16. The deal saw outfielder Teoscar Hernández head to the Pacific Northwest in a deal that also included the Jays picking up righthanded reliever Erik Swanson for immediate help to their bullpen but Macko could provide even more help in the near future.

Macko was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in round seven of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Vauxhall Academy in Alberta. A $250,000 signing bonus convinced him to forego an opportunity to go to Purdue.

C's Chat

Macko told Everett AquaSox broadcaster Steve Willits he got into baseball in Grade 1 when he attended a tryout on his second day at his school in Slovakia, one of the only schools to offer baseball as an extracurricular activity.

Macko’s baseball journey took him to Ireland when he was 11 years old. According to Alberta Dugout Stories, he joined a ballclub in Bray, south of Dublin called the Greystone Mariners, foreshadowing the nickname of the team he would be drafted by. After winning a Little League title there, his family moved to Alberta after getting a visa. It was there he pitched for Spruce Grove and was a part of Team Alberta. He also took part in a couple of Tournament 12 events at the Dome in Toronto, a place he hopes to make his major league debut in the future.

Another big step for Macko in his baseball career took place when he joined the Vauxhall Baseball Academy where he was teammates with 2022 Canadians infielder Damiano PalmegianiC’s Plus Baseball reached out to Palmegiani to get his thoughts about his former Jets teammate.

“I think he brings an awesome attitude to the Jays org. He’s a very easygoing guy who carries a massive quiet confidence and knowledge of what he does. Comes from a great family. He’s an extremely mechanically sound lefty who has always had swing-and-miss stuff and just looks like he gets better every year. He’s gonna be calm and collected in big moments.”

Macko’s pro debut came in 2019 with a pair of relief appearances in the Arizona League before getting called up to Everett. His lone appearance with the AquaSox came at Nat Bailey Stadium where he threw two shutout innings against Vancouver on July 25. He returned to the AZL Mariners where he logged a 3.09 earned run average over 23-1/3 innings, striking out 32 and walking 12.

After the 2020 pandemic, Macko’s next action came with Low-A Modesto in 2021 and made nine starts, splitting four decisions with a 4.59 ERA over 33-1/3 innings with 56 punchouts and 21 free passes. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by “recurring shoulder tenderness” according to Baseball America as he missed most of June and the first half of July before being shut down for good in early August. BA ranked Macko as the Mariners 14th-best prospect after that season, noting “his pitchability, athleticism and above-average command of four pitches. The Mariners see his curveball as a potentially plus pitch and his slider has progressed to average after he changed his grip. He’s a studious worker who keeps a journal about what he’s learned.”

In 2022, Macko started the year at High-A Everett and struck out 11 batters in his first start of the year with five innings of three-run ball against Eugene on April 9. He then struck out 10 after allowing just two runs over six frames against Tri-City on April 21. Macko got to pitch twice in Vancouver in front of friends and family and proceeded to blank the C’s over five innings where he rang up seven strikeouts in the series opener on May 3. He “bamboozled Addison Barger with curveballs at 65 and 67 miles per hour before dialling it up to 94. Macko was up to 95 at one point.” He racked up seven more Ks over four innings in which he surrendered two runs in the series finale on Mother’s Day May 8. Macko made only two more starts after that as he missed the rest of the year after elbow soreness and surgery to fix the meniscus in his right knee according to MLB Pipeline. He finished the year with a 3.99 ERA and a 60-20 K/BB total in 38-1/3 innings.

The 6-foot, 170-pound Macko returned to action in the Arizona Fall League and flashed his electric stuff with three perfect innings of relief in one outing. Baseball America says he struck out Yankees prospect Jasson Dominguez swinging on a 95 mph fastball, Cubs prospect Matt Mervis looking on a silver at 86 and Marlins prospect Cameron Barstad looking at a bender of 72.

Baseball America ranked Macko as the 10th-best prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system heading into 2023.

“Macko’s stuff was inconsistent in 2022 as he lowered his arm slot and dealt with injuries, but it’s still plenty potent. His fastball ranges from 91-96 mph out of a low slot and release point from the left side that creates a tough angle for lefthanded hitters. His signature pitch is a plus curveball with tight spin and late drop in the low 70s, but at times it devolves into a sweepy, soft offering in the upper 60s. Macko also has an average horizontal slider in the mid-80s that gives lefties trouble and a fringy, low-80s changeup that is improving. Macko is a good athlete, but overthrows at times and nibbles at others, resulting in below-average control. His biggest concern is health. Macko has pitched only 95 innings in three seasons after missing most of 2021 with shoulder tenderness and most of 2022 with his knee injury…Macko has the arsenal to start, but his control and health point to a likely relief future. His primary goal will be to stay healthy in 2023.”

BA assigned grades of Macko’s pitching repertoire on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale.

  • Fastball: 55
  • Curveball: 60
  • Slider: 50
  • Changeup: 45
  • Control: 40
Vancouver Canadians Adam Macko

C’s Plus Baseball caught up with the 23 year-old Macko during Media Day at Nat Bailey Stadium. This interview has been edited for clarity.

C’s Plus Baseball – Adam, welcome to or welcome back to Vancouver, I should say.

Adam Macko – Thank you.

CPB – You’re getting the start on opening night Friday against Spokane. How’s it feel getting the opening night start?

AM – It’s amazing. I mean, I’m very honoured. I’m obviously new to the organization. I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun. It’s going to be quite hectic on opening day from what I’m hearing and from the couple of games that I played here. So I’m super excited about the atmosphere. I’m gonna have people here watching me and it’s gonna be awesome.

CPB – Have you ever had an opening night experience before in your career?

AM – I haven’t pitched an opening night, no. I never got the honour to be the one to pitch on opening night with the Mariners and a couple other organizations or a couple other levels. It was away teams as well so it was not quite as exciting as this will be. So this will definitely be the top experience for me.

CPB – You get traded from Seattle to Toronto. How did you find out about it?

AM – I woke up to a phone call from (Mariners Director of Player Development) Scott McKay. He kind of brought it down from me and was like, ‘Yeah, I mean, we hate to see you go, but this was the best decision. We’re very happy with what you’ve done here.’ Obviously, it was emotional to be leaving a team that I’ve been with for such a long time. They’ve done a great job with me and they’ve been nothing but amazing to me. But as soon as I got down to Toronto to the complex, everybody was super welcoming as well and I’m just lucky to have people around me that I do.

CPB – Speaking of the complex, what was that like, checking out all the bells and whistles they have there?

AM – Yeah, I had a look online on what it was gonna look like, and it was absolutely amazing. And when I got there, I got lost there for the first three days. I couldn’t figure out where I was going. It’s massive. It’s brand new obviously, and just as good as the facility is, the people are even better there so I’m very excited.

CPB – Well, you’re used to pitching here in Vancouver. You actually pitched here in 2019 for a game with the Everett AquaSox and it went pretty well for you. What do you remember about that game?

AM – Not much. It was a blur. That was the most amount of people I pitched in front of. I think it was like a Wednesday or Tuesday game too. So I didn’t expect anything like that, but it was almost packed out. I had a couple of people that I knew that were coming to watch me, which was amazing. I had a couple innings, which somehow went well. I don’t know how, but it was good. And then I pitched here again two times last year in Everett, which also went well. So I love pitching at the stadium. I’m very excited.

CPB – What do you remember about those appearances last year? You really had things working. You had a shutout appearance in your first start. What was that like facing the same team back to back like that?

AM – It was awesome. I actually loved it. I loved pitching twice in a week, I think gets my routine dialled down a little bit better if that makes any sense. But I really like having the shorter rest and pitching against the same team twice. It just kind of you get redemption time, whether it’s the other team or yourself so it’s awesome.

CPB – You’re pitching repertoire, what is it that you throw right now?

AM – Right now I’m going fastball, big slider, cutter and a changeup.

CPB – I also noticed you threw a curve ball (in 2022) at like 67 (miles per hour). Is that something you kind of throw into the mix every once in a while?

AM – I might mix it in there. You know, it’s definitely a fun pitch to throw. The Mariners had me throw it quite a bit but I kind of figured that some things may not be working with it as well as I thought. So I try switching it up a little bit. I’ll bring it outta my back pocket every once in a while, I think.

CPB – Have you kind of noticed a bit of a philosophical change from the Mariners to the Blue Jays as far as how you should pitch or do they just kinda let you just be you and figure it out from there?

AM – Yeah, I would say the Blue Jays are very good with letting you just kind of do your thing and figure yourself out and if you ask questions. They’re always there, they always have the answer and they allow the players to experiment. At least from my experience, they allowed me to experiment a little bit. The Mariners knew me a little bit longer though so they kind of had an idea of what they exactly wanted me to do, which I’m sure will happen once I’m here. But for right now, they’re just kind of letting me ride, which is awesome.

CPB – You were also teammates with (2022 Vancouver Canadians infielder) Damiano Palmegiani during your days at Vauxhall (Baseball Academy in Alberta). What’s it like being in the same organization with him again?

AM – It’s amazing. We were roommates for a year. We’re very tight and we still are. It’s been awesome. He was the first person I thought of when I got traded. I was like, ‘Oh, I get to play with him. I get to be with him.’ So it’s awesome. We obviously kept in contact, we kind of pushed each other throughout spring training and checked up with each other and it’s awesome.

CPB – Anything you were working on specifically in the off-season?

AM – Yeah, this off-season it was just kind of dialling down my mechanics to be able to fill it up consistently, throw it in the strike zone and get all my off-speed pitches in there as well. Not just my fastball.

CPB – Healthwise, are you feeling pretty good? I know you’ve had some injury hiccups here and there but you’re feeling good and healthy for 2023?

AM – Yeah, it’s been a learning process for me but I think I’m starting to definitely figure out what I need to do and how to make my body feel good every single day. So I think it’ll be a really good season for me.

CPB – Being an Irishman, I gotta ask you, what was it like playing baseball in Ireland? I know it’s not the most popular sport there with Gaelic football, hurling and soccer but what was that like playing baseball in Ireland?

AM – It was definitely different like you said. We always played in school. We would go hurling, play Gaelic football, like all that stuff. I’d play that as well, which was a lot of fun being exposed to different sports. But baseball was definitely not the main team (in school).

CPB – I believe it was the Greystone Mariners was the team you played for (in Ireland)?

AM – Yeah.

CPB – Did it kind of just feel like it was kismet that Seattle did draft you?

AM – Yeah, it was kind of surreal. I didn’t really realize that until later, but I was like, ‘Wait, I actually played for the Mariners. Alright! That was funny. But I mean, everything that’s been happening in my career so far just seems like a dream. So I’m just loving every minute of it.

CPB – I just wanna ask finally about your draft day experience. What was that like and where were you when you found out you were drafted by the Mariners?

AM – I was in Vauxhall Academy. I had my parents come out, my girlfriend came out and my teammates were there. Damiano was not there, actually, he was already in college by then but I had all my teammates there and it was just amazing to have a day where it was kind of surrounded by this one thing and it was a draft. And once it happened, it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt awesome and everybody was there to celebrate with me. It was great.

Adam Macko File

  • Born – December 30, 2000 in Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Bats/Throws – Left/Left
  • Height/Weight – 6-foot-0, 170 pounds
  • Uniform Numbers – Wore number 15 at Vauxhall Academy as well as Modesto and Everett in 2022.
  • Twitter@adaaam_15
  • Instagram@a.mcko
  • Mound Music – “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
  • Fun Fact – Watched YouTube videos of Justin Verlander and David Price growing and became a Jays fan in 2015 when Price was with Toronto.

Thanks a million to Adam Macko for his time and to Canadians play-by-play announcer Tyler Zickel for arranging the chat.

You can learn about Macko in this story by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.


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