20-year-old MacKenzie Gore made his Double-A debut this past week for the Amarillo Sod Poodles. He sits down with East Village Times to discuss his 2019 season as well as several other topics.
EVT: You have such a unique relationship with Coach Godwin at ECU. How has that evolved since he recruited you?
Gore: That’s a good question. We just built a really good relationship, and he’s a good guy. We had a lot of similarities, and after awhile, we became best friends. He’s just a great guy it’s hard not to like him. I stay with him during the off-season, and the great part is it’s more like roommates. Nothing like he’s coaching me, we were just roommates.
EVT: Coach Godwin told me one of the things he was most impressed with about you was that you were focused on learning how to pitch and not just throw:
Godwin: “I credit MacKenzie on learning how to actually pitch at such an early age instead of worried about velocity.”
EVT: Has that always been something you’ve focused in on?
Gore: Without a doubt. I was always taught growing up to pitch first; then the velocity will come. I wasn’t always a guy that overpowered hitters, I was smaller, and I had to focus on the pitching part and not how hard can I throw. Pitch first, and the velocity will come.
EVT: He mentioned a conversation that you guys had in the offseason about how you were potentially a little low after last years issues.
Gore: Yeah, it changed in a way, but it was still tough after that. A way of thinking about it is everybody is struggling at some point with something. Can’t just feel bad. It’s like he said people aren’t going to feel sorry for you. Just keep your head down and keep trying to figure it out. That was what he told me, and I tried it. It was just great advice.
EVT: How important is it to have guys like Godwin and Harwood in your corner, not to mention the tremendous support from your family?
Gore: It’s great. It just means that they understand. So it means that we don’t always have to talk about baseball. They understand that there’s a lot that once you leave the field you don’t just want to keep talking baseball, you want to do something else. The fact that they understand that it is an everyday thing and that helps a lot.
EVT: Everything is timed in your warmup. Only player I’ve ever seen with a stopwatch out there in warm-ups. How important is your routine, and what exactly are you using the stopwatch for?
Gore: I don’t like to be rushed. When I get rushed, I start panicking a little bit. The stopwatch makes sure that I know exactly what time it is. I don’t have to count throws or anything like that. I know what time it is, I have this amount of time to do this, and then this is when I need to be ready for the game. That’s why I do it, so I don’t take too long here and get rushed in another area. It allows me to take my time.
EVT: How much of an impact has the technology like Edgertronic and Rapsodo affected how you look at pitching and developing?G
Gore: It’s good. It helps with the pitches. It’s not something that I live and die with, but I use it with pitches like my slider. It’s a great tool, something that is another tool to help you continue to get better.
EVT: When was the last time you talked to Luis Patino? How has that relationship been being in different area codes?
Gore: It’s been great. We keep each other on our toes. He’s got such great stuff, and we both have stuff that we need to work on. We keep pushing each other, and that hasn’t changed.
EVT: You’re to the point now where players that you were teammates with have made it to the big leagues. Margevicius, Paddack, etc. Have you talked to them at all about their experiences?
Gore: It’s good. We help each other out, and we talk, but it’s more of a friendship than anything. You know I played with Nick, we’re teammates, we have a really good relationship. Paddack and I got close, but we only had a little time around each other, and it’s still good.
EVT: You just missed getting to hit this series by a day. As a great high school hitter, do you miss hitting at all?
Gore: Yeah, but my job is to get people out right now. There are some at-bats coming soon, maybe next week.
EVT: I know you didn’t feel like you had your best stuff in your first start. But you faced a lineup with two major leaguers including an AL All-Star. How was that first Double-A experience?
Gore: Just keep doing what I’m doing, and making adjustments where they are necessary. It was fun, though. Brand new team. It’s easier to fit in with a new team once you play, and I was sitting around that whole weekend itching to get in.