Triple-Play: MacKinnon Raking As Bees Head To Sacramento For Six
SALT LAKE CITY – After enjoying a 4-2 homestand against Albuquerque, Salt Lake looks to keep the bats hot as they head to Sacramento for a six-game series.
Salt Lake improved to 23-19, good for first in the PCL West Division, in winning four of six games against the visiting Albuquerque Isotopes. The Bees hosted the Isotopes at Smith’s Ballpark May 17-22.
The highlight of the homestand was the Bees fourth walk-off win of the season and the first walk-off base hit, a two-run blast from Colby Fitch.
MacKinnon gets hot
Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, Bees first baseman David MacKinnon didn’t hit for a lot of power early is his pro career.
With just eight home runs across his first two seasons in the Angels system, it was easy for fans and scouts alike to look at the numbers and wonder if MacKinnon had a future as a first baseman, a position that traditionally values power at the plate.
Following a wasted 2020 season, MacKinnon launched 13 bombs for the Angels Double-A affiliate Rocket City in 2021. While the power was a welcome development, MacKinnon was able to add the long ball without sacrificing contact. He hit .279 in 126 games across two levels in 2018. Upping the average to .285 with Rocket City.
MacKinnon was assigned to the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees for the first time out of spring training.
After a slow start to the season, MacKinnon has carried the Bees offense recently. Over the last 15 days he leads Salt Lake in at-bats (49), home runs (4), hits (14) and RBI (15).
During the homestand against Albuquerque, MacKinnon was far and away the Bees most productive hitter. He finished with nine hits, four home runs and eight runs batted in. He hit .391 in the series and reached base at a .481 clip.
Through 119 at-bats, MacKinnon’s .303 batting average leads all regulars. His nine home runs lead the team while his 27 runs batted in are tied with Magneuris Sierra for second in the clubhouse behind Dillon Thomas’ 30.
Barring injury or a sudden willingness by the Angels to platoon at the big league level, Bees fans can expect MacKinnon to be a mainstay in Lou Marson’s lineup.
Starting staff proving themselves
The Bees bullpen may be struggling to find the right combination each day, but Marson’s starting rotation has been lights out this year.
Salt Lake’s starters have combined for a Pacific Coast League best 3.92 earned run average, fourth best in Triple-A.
In only four starts, Kenny Rosenberg is 1-0 with 23 strikeouts in 18 innings of work. Jhonathan Diaz has built a 3.18 earned run average in five starts, good enough to earn him a pair of starts with the Angels. And César Valdez just returned to Salt Lake after throwing one inning for the Angels in a brief call-up earlier in May.
It’s been Jake Kalish that has led the staff recently. Kalish leads the PCL with a 1.89 earned run average, good for fourth across all of Triple-A.
Kalish talked about how his offseason work with Tread Athletics has paid off, “We dove in and found that my fastball wasn’t really moving as well as I’d like it to be. So we went to the back to the drawing board. Now it’s something I’ve been able to attack hitters with. It’s fun to just go after guys and have a little more room for error.”
A former 32nd round pick of the Kansas City Royals, the 30-year old Kalish is 4-1 with 37 strikeouts with Salt Lake. His 1.89 earned run average is more than two full runs below his 4.19 career average.
Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants affiliate)
No. 5- OF Heliot Ramos
A 2017 first-round pick of the Giants, Ramos has struggled with Sacramento this season. Hitting .191 through 34 games, Ramos has three home runs and three doubles with 12 runs batted in. Ramos went 2-6 in a four game cup of coffee with the Giants earlier this season.
No. 14- RP Gregory Santos
Santos has appeared in one game for the Giants in 2022, throwing 1.2 scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 5.
In 14 appearances with the River Cats, Santos has a 3.45 earned run average. He has struck out 15 batters while walking 10. Opponents have a .258 batting average against Santos in 2022.
No. 19- RP Kervin Castro
In two appearances out of the San Francisco bullpen, Castro has given up four hits while not allowing a run in 1.2 innings.
With Sacramento, Castro has appeared in 10 games. Back to back rough outings saw Castro’s earned run average skyrocket to 8.10. Control issues have plagued Castro this season as he has walked 16 batters while striking out just 12.
No. 26- SP Sean Hjelle
A 2018 second-round pick out of Kentucky, Hjelle is 3-2 in eight starts. Three bad starts in which Hjelle has allowed seven earned runs (twice) and six earned runs have pushed Hjelle’s earned run average north of 6.00.
In his most recent start Hjelle surrendered two hits while striking out seven in a win against the Tacoma Rainiers.
No. 29- C Ricardo Genovés
Known more for his work behind the plate with a glove than at the plate with a bat, Genovés is batting .258 this season with eight extra base hits. Genovés snapped a four game hitless streak with a pair of base hits against Tacoma over the weekend.
Former Angels top prospect Jo Adell picked up his first hit not of the extra-base variety on Sunday afternoon. After being optioned to Salt Lake, Adell has hit for a .269 batting average with five home runs and eight doubles. He is currently second on the team in both categories.
Brendon Davis, the Angels 2021 Minor League Player of the Year, was placed on waivers earlier in the week and claimed by the Detroit Tigers organization. Davis has been optioned to the Tigers Triple-A affiliate Toledo. Davis’ six home runs were second on the team before the move.
The Salt Lake Bees (23-19, 1st in PCL West) travel to Sacramento to face the River Cats (20-22, 4th in PCL West) in a six-game series at Sutter Health Park. The series is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 24 with first pitch at 5:35 p.m. (MST).