With as much upside as any prospect in all of Major League Baseball, San Diego Padres’ left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore could very well make the team when they break camp in late March.
There is no question that the San Diego Padres have a tough decision to make this spring.
As a competitive team, they are obligated to provide their best 26-man roster on Opening Day. The 2020 Padres intend to battle for a playoff position, and every game counts — especially those contests in March and April. You need to give your team the best opportunity to win each day.
In the past, the Padres displayed that they will not restrict rookies from earning major league service time in their first year. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack both made the team out of the spring in 2019 as each young man showed the necessary skills to play at the highest level.
MacKenzie Gore is showcasing his stuff this spring in Peoria. The Padres’ No.1 prospect is blessed with ungodly stuff from the left side and will surely be an impressive pitcher in the majors. The soon to be 21-year-old shows plus command on the mound, four above-average pitches and a desire to be dominant. In his first interview with EVT last spring, the pitcher indicated his passion for dominance and the fact the blisters from 2018, provided fire in his belly.
There is no question that he is advanced for his age. But how advanced?
Is MacKenzie Gore ready for major league service time? Here is a case for and against the left-hander opening the season on the Padres’ 26-man roster.
The case against Gore opening the year with Padres
Currently, the San Diego Padres have several men competing for a spot in the rotation. Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, and Garrett Richards all seem to be locks to open the year in Petco. Joey Lucchesi and Zach Davies have a leg up on the competition. Still, Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, and Ronald Bolanos all earned major league service time last year and could factor in some degree. That is a lot of pitchers with an ability to begin the season in the starting rotation. The unit is crowded.
MacKenzie Gore has never pitched above the Double-A level. Sure, he has been flat-out dominant, but throwing in the Texas League again or in the PCL will only further his development as he continues to work on things. The Padres need to take it slow with the pitcher who has never thrown over 101 innings, which the lefty did last year. Once he makes his major league debut, Gore will be up for good. They do not want to rush him and stunt his growth in any way.
The case for Gore opening the year with the Padres
Plain and simple, he might arguably have the best stuff on the staff already, which is saying a lot. It is really early to crown Gore a perennial All-Star and bonafide ace, but he sure looks to be capable of those types of labels. Yes, the current starting staff is full, however, if Gore displays that he is ready this spring- the Padres will have a hard time leaving him off their active roster moving forward. The Padres will want to start the season hot, and Gore could really fuel the team early in the season.
His stuff plays at the major league level now. There may be rough points for the young pitcher, but he may be better served to learn from mistakes made at the highest level, not playing against Tulsa or Reno. MacKenzie Gore will force the hands of the Padres no matter where he starts the 2020 season. His goal is to dominate and do so at the major league level. The spring will be his chance to show he belongs. If he shows consistency and growth, the San Diego Padres could have a very difficult decision on their hands in regards to their starting rotation.
MacKenzie Gore will show a lot of potential this spring but will need an almost perfect performance to win a starting job on the Opening Day roster. The roster is just full of pitchers who have more experience and served their time. It will take a trade for the Padres to create room for this left-hander. That could very well happen, as the Padres and their general manager seem to be at the heart of every trade rumor. No matter what happens, Gore will make his debut in 2020. The question is – when?