The next potential breakout prospect in the Mariners’ pitching pipeline could be a lefthander born in Slovakia.
Adam Macko showed power stuff in nine starts for Low-A Modesto last year before his season was cut short by a non-structural shoulder injury.
When healthy, the recently turned 21-year-old’s arsenal was electric.
Macko’s go-to weapon is a high-spin spike-curveball with considerable depth. He’s significantly increased the velocity of his riding fastball and now averages 93-94 mph and touches 98.
He’s developed an effective slider, which he really only began throwing last year. And toward the end of last season, he rediscovered his changeup.
“(He has) incredibly unique stuff that can overwhelm hitters,” new Mariners farm director Emanuel Sifuentes said. “. . . As long as he stays healthy, he should be really good (this) year.”
Macko struggled with consistency and control at times last season, posting a 4.59 ERA and 21 walks in 33.1 innings.
But as a 20-year-old in his second season, Macko recorded 15.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Last May, he tossed three consecutive 10-strikeout games.
“At his best, he has four pitches. It’s strikes. It’s velo,” Sifuentes said. “And everything moves in a very unique way. When you combine that with his age, and the way he moves and his delivery, it really is a unique package.”
Macko is trying to become the third Slovakian-born player to reach the majors.
He was introduced to baseball in first grade, when he began hitting balls off a tee at school. As he grew older, he taught himself pitching mechanics by studying YouTube videos of Justin Verlander and David Price.
At age 12, Macko and his family moved to Alberta, Canada. He later enrolled at Vauxhall High, one of Canada’s top baseball academies, and developed into a 2019 seventh-round pick.
The 6-foot Macko was just 170 pounds when drafted, but has since bulked up to 200 pounds.
“He’s just built a much bigger, faster engine over the years,” Sifuentes said. “And right now, it’s just learning how to drive that new car.
“Once he figures that out, he is going to take off.”
— The Mariners promoted Emanuel Sifuentes to replace Andy McKay as farm director. Sifuentes, entering his ninth season with the organization, worked in the scouting department before spending last year as the assistant director of player development. McKay is joining the Mariners’ major league coaching staff and will be the organization’s senior director of baseball development. McKay was hired in October 2015 and has overseen the rise of the Mariners’ top-ranked farm system.
— The Mariners lost 24-year-old reliever Nolan Hoffman to the Orioles, who selected the sidearm righthander with the top overall pick in December’s minor league Rule 5 draft. Hoffman, a 2018 fifth-round pick who had Tommy John surgery in 2019, split last season between Low-A Modesto and High-A Everett. He posted a 3.53 ERA in 51 innings, with 55 strikeouts and 14 walks.