May 25th was a night of debuts for the High-A Tampa Tarpons, as they made the short drive south to play the Bradenton Marauders.
The buzz in the air that evening was for the first rehab start of Didi Gregorius, announced just the night before. In addition to Gregorius, right-handed pitcher Andrew Bellatti was another former major leaguer attempting a comeback through the Yankees’ system after injuries sidelined him for several seasons. The third player making his season debut that evening was Josh Maciejewski, the Tarpons’ starting pitcher.
Maciejewski was the Yankees tenth-round pick out of UNC Charlotte in 2018. He set a school record for starts and showed significant improvement during his senior season; he compiled a 9-2 record with a 2.25 ERA. Despite not being ranked among Baseball America’s top 500 prospects, the 6’3” southpaw was able to catch the eye of the Yankees, becoming their final pick on the second day of the draft. The team saw enough upside in his stuff built around a low 90s fastball, solid changeup, and a slider to bring him into the organization.
After a short and rocky professional debut in the Gulf Coast League and the Staten Island Yankees, Maciejewski was not assigned to a full-season squad to start 2019. In late May, when highly-regarded prospect Clarke Schmidt experienced discomfort in his forearm, the Yankees were able to grab Maciejewski from their extended spring training complex to make a spot start for the High-A Tampa Tarpons.
Maciejewski set the tone for a pitchers duel that evening. He went five innings, while only allowing one run on three hits and a pair of walks facing the highest level of competition that he had yet seen. The sudden movement around the organization to fill a need became the theme of his season.
Following that one-off appearance, Maciejewski did not appear in another game until the the Staten Island Yankees began their campaign in mid-June. He quickly established that his strong performance with High-A Tampa was not a fluke. The left-handeri allowed one earned run or less in five of his six appearances for Staten Island, while logging 31.1 innings. After his sixth appearance, he was moved up for a handful of games with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs.
He barely had time to unpack in Charleston when he was called upon to fill a need with Triple-A Scranton. After pitching six innings and allowing only one earned run in his Triple-A debut, he was hit hard in his second outing at that level. He then finished the season moving through the system with a single start each for Charleston, Tampa, and Scranton.
After pitching at four levels, Maciejewski ended up with a 2.33 ERA, 0.968 WHIP, and only 2.9 BB/9 in 73.1 IP. That’s a very strong season for a pitcher who could never settle in with one team or coaching staff.
Maciejewski is not on any of the Yankees’ top prospects list, but he did put together a remarkable season in 2019. Next year he could start at either High-A Tampa or Double-A Trenton as he continues moving through the system. He is something different, a left-hander who thrives with control in a sea of flame-throwing righties. Next season will go a long way towards showing if he has a major-league future either inside or out of the Yankees’ system.