MacKenzie Gore enjoyed his time in major league camp and made the best of his opportunities there.
The San Diego Padres are excited about the future of their major league team.
As MacKenzie Gore began spring camp in Peoria, there was a sense that all is in balance with the pitcher. “It has been great. The guys have been welcoming. It has been a lot of fun so far,” Gore said. The left-hander is stoic when he speaks, but you get a sense he is very excited about this spring.
This winter, Gore spent time back home in North Carolina and got away from it all. “I was back on that side of the country, and I spent a lot of time with my family. It was great. I feel like I got some good things done in preparing for the season,” Gore said. Most of his time away from the game is spent sharpening his mind. The left-hander prepares methodically every day about improving himself. It goes way beyond mechanics for this pitcher, who enjoys the art of pitching.
Physically, Gore is putting on weight as he fills out. The 21-year-old looks good and is noticeably stronger this spring in Peoria. “I am on the same eating program as the last offseason,” Gore said. The Padres helped him in the winter of 2018 in terms of eating healthy and gaining muscle. The program is working well as Gore is at peak physical condition presently.
The 2019 season was a year of dominance for the Padres top prospect. Gore finished the season in Amarillo after posting a 1.02 ERA and a 0.706 WHIP in the Cal League with the Storm. The left-hander made the All-Star team after pitching 15 games in Lake Elsinore. For the Sod Poodles, Gore established himself in the Texas League, recording a 2-1 record in five games. He did allow ten earned runs, showing that the former No.1 pick is capable of being knocked around against a higher level of competition.
There was a point when Gore was shut down for the year. Frustration set in for the pitcher, but he recognized the Padres were only looking out for his best interest. “It (the limitation) is part of it. I knew there was going to be a limit. I understood. There weren’t any bad feelings. It was frustrating, though,” Gore said. There is an excellent understanding of the game from this young pitcher. He is a great competitor but understands fully that the team is only looking out for his best interest.
Early in camp, Gore pitched live batting practice to a few of the major leaguers. Fernando Tatis Jr. was impressed with what he saw from Gore. “He’s really nasty,” Tatis said. “He’s coming to you. He’s not afraid.” In asking Mackenzie about the comments from Tatis and the fact he faced some tough hitters, his response was honest. “Yea, it is great. It is really good to face those guys. He (Tatis) is a really good hitter. We push each other in practice. It prepares us for when we get into the games,” Gore said.
Pushing one another and motivating each individual is something the Padres take very seriously. MacKenzie Gore was lucky enough to have Luis Patino in camp with him this spring. The duo are like brothers and feed off one another when it comes to improving their craft. “He is doing the right things, and we are both going to keep working,” Gore said about his fellow prospect. The two pitchers are most likely going to start the season in Amarillo and could be called upon at any time to assist the Padres once the season begins.
Being a National League pitcher, there will be a time shortly when Gore is allowed to swing a bat. That is something that excites him very much. The conversation was business-like to this point, but the lefty beamed while discussing the art of hitting. “I like having the bat in my hand a little bit. It is something we have to be able to do. As a pitcher, you have to be able to handle the bat,” Gore said. Again, there is an excellent understanding from this pitcher about the little things in the game of baseball. “When you can handle the bat, you can help change the game. It is something we are really working hard on.”
MacKenzie Gore is the real deal. It goes way beyond the stuff he has on the mound too. His work ethic, maturity, and understanding of the game are extremely special things that cannot be recognized on a stat sheet. In time, the eyes of the entire major league community could witness the talent that is this left-handed pitcher.