Written by: Zach Volland (@NotBrianKenny)
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MacKenzie Gore was drafted 3rd overall last season out of high school. In his first outings as a pro, he absolutely dazzled. In 21 IP, Gore posted a 1.27 ERA with a K/9 of 14.23, an FIP of 2.14 and an xFIP of 2.49. He surrendered a grand-total of 0 home runs. Yes, this is an extremely small sample size. However, we can use those numbers as a segway into discussing his intangibles in order to paint a very clear picture of what we can expect from Gore’s left arm.
Here’s what we know…
Gore is just 19 years old and stands at 6’3 and 180 pounds. With starting pitching, size is a good place to start. Pitchers with height have great downward plane, and downward plane tends to keep baseballs in the yard. Gore has a relatively wacky, unorthodox delivery, but he’s very athletic and seems to reproduce the delivery without much issue. He has an awesome, unique leg kick that makes him bend like Gumby.
Gore has four pitches that already grade ahead of his time. Gore isn’t going to sit on the hill and blow hitters away with his fastball, but he can touch 95-96 MPH and has “life”. I’d grade it at a 50 with plenty of projection. He commands his fastball on both sides of the plate and can run the ball. Early on, I’d grade his command at 55-60 but I could see him grading higher as he matures in the minor leagues. His changeup is absolutely nasty. I love this kid’s changeup and believe it to be the best pitch in his arsenal. From available video, Gore can throw a straight change, or he can throw it with some run. It typically sits 80-83 MPH. Moreover, when throwing the changeup, Gore does a very good job at keeping the same arm angle and arm speed as his fastball. This will absolutely destroy right-handed hitters. If Gore can polish this pitch, I can really see it being a huge weapon. I’d grade his changeup (as it stands) as a 55, but I think it has a future value of 65.
Gore can throw a pretty gnarly curveball. From reports, this pitch has good depth, good late break and tight spin. Film showed exactly that. He can throw it on both sides of the plate, and it doesn’t look like he makes mistakes tipping the pitch or wrapping. From the weird angles of the film, it looks like this pitch is coming from “1 o’clock” and breaking toward “7 o’clock” moving in the mid 70s. This pitch looks exceptional against left handed hitters and could ruin a right handed hitters day when he throws this pitch down and in. I’d grade his curveball as a 55 right now, but like his other offerings, I think this pitch will be better with time and could grade much higher. Lastly, Gore throws a slider that lands on the average side of the grading scale. I think the pitch needs some refining but looks like it could be a solid pitch with time and patience. I’d grade it at 50 right now with room to grow.
Here’s what we can expect…
I really, really, really, really, really like Gore. I think he has top-end SP #3 potential right out of the gate with potential to be your fantasy rotation ace. I believe he will start the season with a bang and quickly accelerate through the minor league ranks. I would absolutely expect him to finish this season in Double-A, and he could possibly open up the 2019 season with an invite to Spring Training and a promotion to AAA. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but the sky is the limit with MacKenzie Gore. He has everything an organization would want in a starting pitcher. If he matures like I think he will, Gore could be frontline starter that will go out and attack lineups fearlessly. If Gore is available in your keeper league, I’d stash him now and reap the benefits later.
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Featured image courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune