San Diego Padres’ top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore has had a terrific start to his 2019 season with the Lake Elsinore Storm. Despite all the hype, the left-hander believes that he still has a lot of work to do.
20-year-old MacKenzie Gore has the demeanor of a veteran.
He speaks about being centered and not looking ahead in and every day. The left-hander has been flat-out dominant in the California League, but if you talk to him, he will speak about the things he needs to improve upon to be a better pitcher. He just understands the game. Gore knows what is expected from him and he has lofty expectations for his future.
Though he speaks about dominating each pitch and each inning, there is no bravado in him. “I am in a pretty good spot right now,” Gore says in a southern drawl. “I think I am doing a pretty good job of dominating every day. But I still have a lot of work to do. There is stuff that I can do better,” Gore insists. These aren’t standard cliche answers either. He believes that he has a lot of work to do. When pressed about what exactly he needs to improve upon, he wouldn’t elaborate much. “Just a little bit of everything. Pitch-wise. Execution-wise. I just keep it day by day.”
Last year was a frustrating year for the pitcher. A blister and fingernail issue forced him to spend much of the year on the bench. Gore feels stronger now mentally for having to go through that. When asked if last year helped him in the success he has had so far, he was very honest. “Tough times usually help you in the long run. But it’s still really early. I have only had six starts. It is a long year, and I have a lot of time left. I cannot be happy where I am at right now,” Gore explains to EVT. A mature approach for a player who expects more adversity despite the success he has had so far in 2019. “How to prepare. When adversity sets in, not letting the game speed up on me. That is where last year helped me the most right now. There are times later on this year where last year is going to help.” Gore said. He is preparing himself for the adversity that is bound to come. The lefty realizes that the game will humble you at some point.
There has been a ton of press about Gore this season. The national media is taking notice, and it can be challenging to channel out the hype. “Ignore the noise. It is nice to have all that love. You appreciate it, but you can’t get caught up in it. Day in and day out, I know what I have to do. I am taking it one day at a time and one start at a time,” Gore said. He enjoys the publicity and the notoriety, but will not let it go to his head. He is nowhere close to being the pitcher he wants to be.
On the bench last year in Fort Wayne, Gore was frustrated. To have such a small little injury limit him was a mental battle. “I learned a lot about my stuff and what I need to do to make it better. I learned what adjustments I need to do. I could name so many things,” Gore admits. Some players could have pouted and checked out, but even though he was frustrated, he took the time as a learning experience. “Mainly (I learned) it is in the details. The smallest details make the biggest difference. I look back at my starts, and it helps me a lot,” Gore said.
The relationship between Luis Patino and Gore is really special. The two are best friends despite growing up in total opposite sides of the baseball spectrum. The Colombian native and Gore from North Carolina are close. They consider each other brothers. Gore has taken it upon himself to help Patino. “Luis has a lot of energy. He struggled some at the start but has gotten better the last few times out there. I am helping him with preparing for each start. He has been better in the last few starts. He just has to keep getting better,” Gore tells EVT.
There is a lot of love for MacKenzie Gore on social media. Though the left-hander is not great on social media, he appreciates the show of support from the fans. “The fans are great. They have been great to me. I appreciate all the love, but I am just not good at social media,” Gore said. He does have a silent eye on what people are saying. “I see how they are with Paddack, and it’s awesome. The fans are excited, and that is great,” Gore said with a smile.