The game’s top left-handed pitching prospect is headed to the Texas League.
Fresh off his appearance in the Futures Game, Padres lefty MacKenzie Gore has been promoted to Double-A Amarillo, the Sod Poodles announced Tuesday.
The 20-year-old southpaw has been one of the Minors’ most dominant starters this season, despite spending it exclusively in the hitter-friendly California League with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Among the 674 pitchers with at least 50 innings in 2019, Gore ranks second in four different categories with his 1.02 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, .135 average-against and 38.2 percent strikeout rate through 79 1/3 frames. Only one other qualified California League pitcher has an ERA below 3.29 this season (Josh Green, 1.88), and Gore’s 5.5 K/BB ratio also ranks fourth among the circuit’s qualifiers.
Gore allowed no more than two earned runs in any of his 15 outings with the Storm. He finished up with back-to-back scoreless outings, totaling 13 2/3 innings during which he struck out 18 and allowed six hits and four walks. His seven-inning outing last Tuesday at Rancho Cucamonga was the longest of his career. Gore also pitched a scoreless inning for the National League in Sunday’s Futures Game in Cleveland, during which he walked one but otherwise didn’t allow another American League batter to reach base.
Taken third overall by the Padres in the 2017 Draft out of a North Carolina high school, Gore has risen to the No. 3 spot in MLB.com’s prospect rankings, behind only Rays shortstop Wander Franco and Tigers right-hander Casey Mize. Using a unique delivery that features a high leg kick, the 6-foot-3 hurler draws raves for a four-pitch mix that includes two plus offerings in his low-to-mid-90s fastball and curveball and two above-average ones in his slider and changeup. The arsenal plays up thanks to his above-average control — he walked just 20 in 79 1/3 innings for Lake Elsinore.
Gore joins a loaded Amarillo squad that won the Texas League South Division in the first half, thus punching a ticket to the playoffs in the club’s first season of existence. Along with Gore, the Sod Poodles also boast No. 4 Padres prospect (and fellow Futures Gamer) Adrian Morejon, No. 5 Michel Baez, No. 9 Hudson Potts, No. 11 Buddy Reed, No. 17 Edward Olivares, No. 18 Andres Munoz, No. 21 Owen Miller and No. 29 Ronald Bolanos.
Gore will join Morejon and Munoz as the two pitchers this season to appear in the Texas League during their age-20 seasons.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.