David MacKinnon Enjoying Triple-A Success With Salt Lake Bees
SALT LAKE CITY – After a slow start to 2022, Bees first baseman David MacKinnon has shown tremendous growth in his first stint at the Triple-A level.
After hitting for an inauspicious .234 average with three home runs and just six RBI in April, MacKinnon has raked after finding his footing with the Bees.
D-Mack starts tonight's firework show a little bit early! 💥 pic.twitter.com/bhsS31JDq8
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 5, 2022
A two-sport star at the University of Hartford, MacKinnon made 55 appearances in goal for the Hawks soccer team when not playing baseball. He attributes his two-sport days with his lack of power early in his career.
“It was kind of like play soccer in the fall, then I picked up a bat for the first time in January,” MacKinnon said of his college routine. “I was still a .360 college hitter and I brought those mechanics to pro ball.”
After hitting eight home runs in his first two seasons in the Angels organization, an injury early in the 2019 season gave him plenty of time to overhaul his swing.
“I had full two years of 2019 and 2020 to reinvent my whole swing. I went in and studied the guys that, in my opinion, are two of the best hitters in baseball, Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays),” MacKinnon said.
What did he learn in those study sessions? “I saw both of them got to a really consistent landing position. When they landed, their hands are in pretty good position right near their shoulder. Well, I can get to that spot consistently like they do.”
Though not the same type of hitter as either of those players, MacKinnon’s thought process was simple. “By no means am I going to hit the ball like Mike Trout or Vlad Jr, but I’ll probably have a little bit more room for error. And I’ll probably have a little bit more juice behind the ball.”
The adjustments paid dividends in 2021 when he launched 13 home runs for the Angels Double-A Rocket City Trash Pandas. Not only did his power numbers increase, he enjoyed a more than 20 point jump in batting average, improving from a low .260’s hitter to hitting .285 in 99 games with Rocket City.
If giveaway days are an indicator, MacKinnon’s influence with Rocket City won’t be soon forgotten.
A week from today, we're giving away this commemorative glass with 2021 Trash Pandas slugger David MacKinnon on it!
The first 2,000 adults 18+ will receive one presented by Cops' Kids.
— Rocket City Trash Pandas (@trashpandas) June 2, 2022
After being assigned to Salt Lake following spring training, MacKinnon brought much of the same approach that led to success with Rocket City. “You can really only control the landing position you get in and making a good decision on a pitch to hit. I can make a good swing and sometimes I get a hit.” He continued, “They’re too good at pitching for me to go out there and try to think too much.”
It’s that simplified approach that allowed MacKinnon to focus on process over results at the plate.
“April was tough. It was probably the first three and a half weeks of April was a little tougher. I was hitting the ball hard, not striking out on anything. I felt good at the plate, I think I was a little off mechanically, not much.”
With the weather heating up in May, his bat followed suit.
Playing a team high 26 games in May, MacKinnon put up a .344 batting average to lead the Bees. His 33 hits led the Pacific Coast League while finishing second with 25 RBI. Numbers that earned him PCL Player of the Month in May.
AND congrats to David MacKinnon on being named PCL Player of the Month for the month of May!
MacKinnon hit .344/.436/.656 in May posting a 1.092 OPS. He leads the PCL in hits (33) while finishing 2nd in RBI (25) and total bases (63), 3rd in runs (22), and 4th in home runs (7)🔥 pic.twitter.com/ds2kChcdwn
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 3, 2022
It was the second honor of May for MacKinnon after taking home Player of the Week May 23.
Beyond his work at the plate, MacKinnon’s defense at first has turned heads this season. He has yet to commit an error in 47 games after making just three errors in 2021.
He's not just Player of the Month for his batting.🤩 pic.twitter.com/DQxlUIjZNS
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) June 8, 2022
MacKinnon says he takes more pride in picking up his teammates than he worries about the errors, “I just want my guys confident enough to bounce the ball to me and know that I got their back, I’m gonna pick it for him. I think I take most confidence in that. I just want them to trust me over there at first know that I got their back.”
Showing no signs of slowing down in June, MacKinnon has 13 hits and five doubles to lead the PCL through seven games.
The hot stretch has seen manager Lou Marson place MacKinnon higher in the lineup, batting as high as second recently. “He’s made tremendous strides as a as an offensive player. He’s been letting it fly early in the count more this year, staying in the zone longer.” Defensively, Marson loves what he’s seeing out of the rangy athlete. “First base is a tough position. He makes good throws to second on the double play ball. His throws are crisp and he can pick it at the bag.”
Asked what is different about MacKinnon’s game after coaching him in the 2018 Arizona Fall League, Marson spoke about his presence in the clubhouse, “He’s a great kid. Great in the clubhouse.”
For the season, MacKinnon has scored a team high 36 runs while adding 27 extra-base hits. His 13 doubles and 12 home runs lead Salt Lake. Showing a great eye at the plate, he has struck out in 38 at-bats while walking a team high 28 times.
With the added power, continued consistency at the plate and his defensive excellence, the former 32-round draft pick may just play himself into the Angels future plans.