The man with the black-and-orange bat and the smoothest method of collecting baseballs on the prep diamond is named after, well, a basketball legend.
Jordan Macias picked up a (toy) bat and started swinging long before he could do much of anything else. Roughly 15 years later, the Campbell shortstop is the Star-Advertiser position player of the year. He hit .542 and stole 25 bases in 26 attempts. Besides that, he has stupendous range on the field and handles the most difficult of plays with a smooth, efficient skill that was simply unmatched.
“I’ve always been a shortstop all my life, ever since tee ball (Ewa Beach). I was 4 years old and the league didn’t want me to play because I was too young. I actually got MVP that year. I was 2 or 3. I had a little bat and my dad (Gil Macias) would pitch to me,” Macias said.
So dad must’ve been quite the star in his day, right?
“He’s a lefty so he was a first baseman and a pitcher. He played on the mainland. He stopped playing when he was 16. I don’t know why,” Macias said. “He told me his average was .672 in Little League.”
Numbers don’t appeal to all athletes, but Macias can’t help being detail-oriented. Trends, like hard-hit ground balls seemingly out of reach, can’t slip past him. He had stellar hitting performances prior to this senior year while he played at Kapolei. He gravitated to Campbell, the defending Division I state champion, and transferred before the deadline last summer.
“D-I is more competitive, more opportunities. I like Campbell better with the success and tradition they have,” he said.
Kapolei won the OIA D-II title and reached the state final before losing to Kamehameha-Hawaii on a highly controversial call at third base in the final inning. The Hurricanes may have missed Macias, but they picked up most of the slack, it seems. Macias has no regrets. He’s on his way to Southern Nevada next.
At Kapolei, Macias felt like his work was largely ignored by the outside world. At Campbell, he had to start over.
“I feel pretty honored because there’s a lot of talent on Oahu. To be player of the year feels pretty great. There’s times last year and sophomore year, I had pretty good numbers but my freshman and sophomore year I hit over .300 and I didn’t get first or second team in OIA. Then in D-II, I got second team even though I hit well,” he said. “I should’ve gotten more recognition.”
Things will be substantially different at his next stop.
“I’m going to have to prove myself all over again, a whole new level. It’s college baseball. It’s a next step to the pros. The competition’s different than high school, everyone throwing 90s, stronger, faster,” said Macias, who is 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds. “I’m more in the cage, more running. Today I was in the cages and lifting. I gained 15 pounds when I transferred to Campbell.”
The proving thing is real. It’s one of his motivational tools, whether by design or not.
“My height is not as tall as everyone else. People look at me and, oh wow, you’re good at baseball. Ever since I was a freshman, everybody’s underestimated me,” he said, slightly generalizing about who ‘everybody’ is.
“Other teams,” he added.
Well, maybe long ago, but not no mo’.
He is right more than 54 percent of the time
So how exactly does anyone hit an insane .542 in the treacherous OIA West (and state tournament)?
“I feel like it could’ve been better. Some at-bats, I got too greedy,” Macias said. My approach is always up the middle, left-center gap. The alleyways is what I head for.”
That batting average wasn’t padded by bunts — not that there would be anything wrong with that.
“I had zero bunt singles. I think I tried one time and I fell, so Coach (Rory Pico) let me hit,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be the player who I am without my coaches. They put in a lot of hard work and dedication. This is my best year out of my four years of high school. I never hit this much doubles or stole this much bases,” he said.
Unlike most baserunners, Macias had the green light.
“Most of it was on my own. (Pico) said whenever you feel like going, just go,” he said. “I got thrown out once at the state tournament. That was the only one all year. Actually, my mom got me new cleats (Adidas) for the state tournament. My old cleats, I had them ever since sophomore year. They were completely worn out, but I still got 24 steals out of them. When I first stole with my new cleats, I got thrown out against Punahou. (The new cleats) were better, but the old cleats (Adidas) were like good luck to me. It’s in my trophy case.”
Three games into the OIA regular season, Macias traded in his hardware. His new weapon of choice: an Easton X1Z, black and orange, 33/30.
“Almost the whole team uses my bat. It’s funny ’cause at the beginning of the season, our hitting wasn’t that good,” Macias said.
Until then, he’d been using a friend’s Easton S1, or a model similar to that.
“I broke it,” he said.
In an era of lower batting averages, less punch and, arguably, less fun for baseball fans, BBCOR bats remain the standard and rule. But at Southern Nevada, Macias will have to adjust full-time to fine pine. Or ash, or whatever wood bats are made of today.
“Most colleges are BBCOR, but (Southern Nevada) is in a wood bat league. To me, in fall league (American Legion) I hit pretty good with a wood bat. I think I hit better with wood than BBCOR,” Macias said. “I have one wood bat. I broke one last year.”
Macias said his wood bats cost $100 each, which is cheaper than a $200-$300 BBCOR bat. Of course, wood bats break much more easily, but he won’t have to fret about that in college.
“Bryce Harper provides the bats at Southern Nevada because he went there,” Macias said.
Maester of Defense
There were outstanding defensive players at shortstop during the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division I State Championships. Micah Jio of Maui was an incredible blur to the ball every time. Pearl City’s Matt Aribal was steady and swift, too. Haloa Dudoit of state champion Baldwin was superb. Macias, though, had a certain grace and fluidity to his explosive coverage. He was the guy who made everything look easy.
“I think it’s more reps. Coach Todd (Kobashigawa) and Coach Rory work on us individually. A big portion of our practice is pretty much defense, individually by position,” Macias said.
Beyond the beyond
Whether he gets a shot at professional baseball soon or not, Macias is living the dream for himself and his family. While his dad’s playing days ended, it seems, prematurely, older brother Matt Macias played at Damien.
“I’ve haven’t gotten any looks from scouts, but I feel like I wouldn’t be surprised if I did (get drafted). Isiah Kiner-Falefa (formerly of Mid-Pacific), I looked up to him. He got drafted (in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft) by the (Texas) Rangers and I have better stats than him. Hopefully, one scout will look at my stats and see if I have potential.”
Class: Chemistry (junior year). “The experiments, trying new things.”
Teacher: Mrs. Curran, Health. “She would talk to me about baseball and stuff.”
Movie: “I don’t even watch movies.”
TV show: MLB Now. “That’s the only thing I watch.”
Food at home: Spaghetti. “My mom’s spaghetti. She makes it so good.”
Food eating out: Korean fried chicken at Zippy’s.
Athlete: Kolten Wong. “I’d ask him for advice, just baseball IQ and hitting.”
Team: San Francisco Giants.
Music artist: Young Thug.
Batting style: “It’s strictly my own.”
Key to hitting: “See ball, hit ball. Everything I do before each at-bat, I grab my finger and go from left to right. I could train my eyes to see the ball better.”
Key to fielding: “Staying calm under pressure. Don’t get too excited.”
Key to throwing: “Hit your target. I have a big target at first. He’s like 6-2 and 250 pounds (Roy Clemons).”
Advice from Dad (Gil): “Never give up.”
Advice from Mom (Joy): “Believe in God and keep praying. He has a plan for you.”