McDonald hits homer trifecta for Lansing
It took Jared McDonald 61 at-bats to hit his first three homers of 2022, plus an additional 63 to hit another. Then came Thursday, when he nearly doubled his home run output in a matter of five innings. The Oakland catching prospect went deep in his first three at-bats and
It took Jared McDonald 61 at-bats to hit his first three homers of 2022, plus an additional 63 to hit another. Then came Thursday, when he nearly doubled his home run output in a matter of five innings.
The Oakland catching prospect went deep in his first three at-bats and drove in a career-high seven runs to power High-A Lansing past Lake County, 10-3, at Classic Park. McDonald, who became the fourth Lugnut to go homer three times in a single game and the first since Jason Dubois in 2001, felt good going in but didn't have any inkling of what was to come.
"Well, it's not something you think about," McDonald said with a laugh. "It was a normal day. Took some early batting practice and looked to get things going in that first at-bat. I've been seeing a lot of breaking balls lately, but I looked fastball and jumped it."
A first-pitch blast to right-center field in the opening frame gave Lansing a quick 2-0 lead. The 25-year-old's fifth home run established a career high, eclipsing the four hit across 51 games in last season's professional debut. McDonald found the seats beyond right again in the third, slugging a three-run shot for his first multihomer game and a personal-best five RBIs.
That’s my boy!— Paul McDonald (@PaulMcD36588225) July 1, 2022
The 25-year-old completed the trifecta in his next at-bat, taking a 2-0 pitch out to left-center and giving him almost as many RBIs in five innings as he had in 17 games this month. McDonald had two chances for a fourth roundtripper, but grounded out and walked in his final two plate appearances.
"This was a first for me," McDonald said of hitting three homers. "I hit two [in one game] once or twice in college, but honestly, one home run is a good game. Tonight was one of those nights where I got in good counts and put some good swings together."
The Phoenix, Arizona native was the 18th Minor Leaguer to homer three times in one game this season. He's also gone deep four times in his last five games overall and is batting .297/.378/.486 with 15 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs in 41 games.
It's a far cry from his debut with Lansing in 2021, when the 2019 Draft pick struggled to a .222 average and a .624 OPS.
McDonald was selected in the 19th round out of Western Oregon after a standout collegiate career. He finished tied for third all-time in the program's history with 18 homers despite playing two seasons with the Wolves. However, his transition to a pro ball and life as a backup has taken some getting used to.
"It's a challenge, for sure," McDonald admitted. "Last year was a real big learning curve. I force myself to come ready to play every single day, whether I'm in the lineup or not. I do my work, look at the lineup and stay focused. Even if I'm not scheduled to play, you never know when you'll be needed. I just take it one day at a time and try not to do too much."
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.