MacDonald records Greeneville's first cycle

In second game of '16, Aussie prospect caps feat with triple in seventh

Connor MacDonald played in 48 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last season. (Cliff Welch/MiLB.com)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | June 29, 2016 10:41 PM

It was around 11 a.m. Thursday in Connor MacDonald's hometown of Brisbane, Australia, when he flew around first base on his way to making history 9,000 miles away.

The Astros prospect tripled in the seventh inning to complete the first cycle in team history Wednesday night, scoring four times and driving in a pair of runs, as Rookie-level Greeneville routed Princeton, 14-3, at Hunnicutt Field.

"It's pretty surreal," MacDonald said. "I probably don't know what I've done. Everyone's really happy for me. I just felt like I'd gone 4-for-4, but a cycle, obviously, it's not something that happens [often] in your career. It's pretty awesome."

MacDonald never hit for a cycle while growing up in Australia, nor had he since he signed with the Astros four years ago at the age of 16. The Appalachian League hadn't seen one since Pulaski's Nathan Mikolas last July 11 against Greeneville.

"I just went out trying to hit the ball hard," MacDonald said. "I've been a bit too patient my last couple at-bats, so I just went out there trying to be aggressive."

Batting out of the ninth spot in the order in just his second game of the season, the Queenslander's perfect night started with a leadoff single to left field in the third. An inning later, MacDonald clubbed a solo shot for his first homer since July 2 in the Gulf Coast League.

"I took the count to full, was seeing the ball well and just went with it and hit it over right-center," he said. "I was on a full count, just trying to put the ball in play and just saw it good and nailed it."

The night was far from over.

When MacDonald doubled over second base leading off the sixth, his teammates started to take notice of what was in progress.

"I went single, home run, double. I got in the dugout and my mate came up to me and said, 'Dude, you're a triple away from the cycle,'" he said. "I was just taking it one at-bat at the time and that last at-bat coming up, I took the count to full and saw the ball go in the gap. I just thought, 'Oh, I've got to go for it.'"

The first baseman drove a liner to right in the seventh and turned on his jets, racing to third with only the second triple of his professional career. MacDonald drove home Gabriel Bracamonte with his career-high fourth hit.

"I had a runner on third, so I just wanted to make sure I got the run in," he said. "As I was rounding first, heading to second, I could hear the whole dugout screaming and thought, 'I've got to go for it.'"

MacDonald in 2012 became the first Australian to sign with the Astros in more than 20 years. The 2016 season marks his first away from complex ball, having played in the Dominican Summer League two years ago and the GCL last summer. The low spot in the order didn't bother the Aussie and, gauging by Thursday's results and his power potential at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, it may not apply for long.

"I just appreciate the game time," he said. "Any at-bat, I don't care whether I'm hitting three or nine, I just love getting at-bats. You can hit me anywhere in the lineup. As long as I get at-bats, I'm sweet."

Thursday wasn't just MacDonald's first cycle. It was his first four-hit game as a prof as he established a personal best for runs scored. He also walked in the ninth.

"It's definitely good knowing it's there," he said. "I've just got to keep it simple because if I keep it simple, the results will come. I've just got to keep being aggressive and look forward, try to keep it rolling the rest of the season."

The rest of the Astros raked around MacDonald. Greeneville totaled 15 hits, with every member in the lineup contributing at least one. The visitors scored in every inning from the second through the seventh.

"It was a great team win," MacDonald said. "The pitchers threw strikes. It felt like we were always in the dugout hitting and, especially at this level, if you go a whole game without making an error, it definitely helps playing 27 outs. It was a great team win tonight."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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