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Mustangs in the Pros: McKenna Earns Call-Up After a Busy Week

Mustangs in the Pros: McKenna Earns Call-Up After a Busy Week

MUSTANGS IN THE PROS (pdf)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — It was a busy week for former Cal Poly outfielder Alex McKenna.

Opening things on Sunday (Aug. 12), McKenna banged out two doubles and a pair of singles to lead the Tri-City ValleyCats to a 7-3 victory over the Vermont Lake Monsters. He knocked in one run and produced his first four-hit game as a professional.

Then he singled in the seventh inning of the short-season rookie New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday (Aug. 14) at State College, Penn.

Two days later, McKenna was promoted to the Quad Cities River Bandits of the full-season Low-A Midwest League. He served as Tri-City's first-base coach on his final day as a ValleyCat on Wednesday (Aug. 15) before the call-up Thursday.

McKenna was Tri-City's best offensive player with a team-high .328 average and .958 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

After hitting just .200 in his first 30 professional at-bats, McKenna recorded eight multi-hit games over his last 18 games with Tri-City, hitting .369 with 14 RBIs, nine runs scored and just nine strikeouts in 65 at-bats.

In his first game with Quad Cities on Friday (Aug. 17), McKenna (pictured below at left in his first game at Quad Cities) went 0-for-4.

He played in 32 games for Tri-City, though he did miss time after being hit in the hand with a pitch and fouling a ball off his foot.

Tri-City remains in first place in the New York-Penn League's Stedler Division. Quad Cities won the Midwest League's first-half Western Division title.

Meanwhile, Kyle Marinconz started at second base in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game and drove in the only run of the game for the North squad with a second-inning groundout. The South team won 7-1.

Marinconz is hitting .258 in 35 games for the Auburn Doubledays with three doubles, a pair of triples and nine RBI.

Relief pitcher Slater Lee tossed one scoreless inning with one strikeout in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. For the year with the Vermont Lake Monsters, Lee is 2-3 with a 1.95 ERA and six saves, earning saves in each of his last four appearances on the mound.

Cal Poly's two Major Leaguers are Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger and St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Bud Norris.

Haniger has rebounded from his 3-for-27 stretch in his first nine games since making his first All-Star appearance July 16 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Haniger is hitting .364 in the month of August, going 28 of 77 with 10 doubles, one home run and 10 RBI.

Haniger garnered his first four-hit game of the year August 9 at Houston with two doubles and a home run and also has nine three-hit games this season. He currently is hitting .278 with 79 RBI, No. 12 in the Major Leagues, and 19 home runs.

Norris has 25 saves in 29 opportunities with a 3-3 record and 3.02 ERA. He gave up just four runs in his last 21 outings (19 innings) before giving up two runs to the Washington Nationals on August 13. This season, Norris has walked just 11 while striking out 63.

The trio of ex-Mustangs in Triple-A are outfielders Nick Torres (Round Rock) and Zack Zehner (Scranton-Wilkes Barre) along with infielder Mike Miller (Pawtucket). Pitcher Chase Johnson (Richmond), second baseman Mark Mathias (Akron), first baseman Brian Mundell (Hartford) and middle infielder Peter Van Gansen (San Antonio) are in Double-A.

After a 1-for-42 slump at Round Rock, Torres has gone 14-for-36 (.389) in his last 11 games with a double to bump the average from .059 to .195.

Miller, who hit .391 in July, sports a .326 average so far in August at Pawtucket. Overall, the middle infielder is hitting .274 with nine doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI in 89 games.

Van Gansen is 9-for-30 (.300) in his last 10 games at San Antonio and is hitting .264 for the year with 13 doubles, a triple, two home runs and 34 RBI in 90 games.

Zehner has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, going 8-for-25 (.320) with a double and two solo home runs for Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Zehner is hitting .262 with 15 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 35 RBI in 73 games. He also played 321 games at Double-A Trenton earlier this season, hitting .293 with six doubles, three triples and four home runs with 21 RBI.

In a stretch of six starts from July 12 through August 13, Lakewood's Spencer Howard posted a 5-0 win-loss record and 1.71 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 44 1/3 innings.

Trent Shelton of the Arizona Rookie League's Padres 2 team earned his third win August 12 against the Padres 1 squad, allowing one run and three hits over 4 2/3 innings. He is 3-2 with a 2.73 ERA, striking out 37 batters while walking just five.

Relief pitcher Jeff Johnson, who appeared in 98 games over two seasons at Triple-A Columbus before being released in 2017, has 10 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 27 games with Puebla of the Mexican League.

Chase Johnson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2017, earned his second win of 2018 with a five-inning stint against Bowie on August 16. He is 2-3 with a 3.69 ERA over 15 appearances on the mound this season at Double-A Richmond.

Follow all former Cal Poly baseball players in the professional ranks by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Photos above of Mitch Haniger (left) and Bud Norris (right) courtesy of FantraxHQ