EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – While his El Paso Chihuahuas teammates continue toiling away in the 2021 Triple-A season, pitcher Mackenzie Gore remains away from the team in Arizona.
The 22-year-old lefty last pitched for the Chihuahuas on June 18, after which he was sent to the San Diego Padres’ spring training facility to recover from blisters on his pitching hand. However, since he’s recovered, the Padres have still kept him in Arizona.
The sixth-best prospect in all of MLB, Gore’s pitching delivery has not been the same in 2021 in El Paso as it was in his first three seasons of minor league baseball. In six starts for the Chihuahuas, Gore is 0-2 with a 5.85 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 12 walks. He’s struggled to the point that he’s only pitched past the fourth inning once all year.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller met with the media on Sunday evening and discussed Gore’s progress while he’s been in Arizona. While Gore is improving, San Diego is intent on letting the potential ace work out his issues before letting him leave the Valley of the Sun.
“We’ve got to be in a really good spot. It’s not about just coming up and holding your own, it’s about him being the best version of himself,” Preller said. “Dealing with some of the blister stuff earlier in the year, definitely looking at where he was delivery and arm-action wise and things like that. He’s still working every single day and we’re hoping he’s an option here at some point in the second half of the season.”
Preller did not provide a timeline for Gore’s return to El Paso, or for a potential promotion to the Big Leagues. The club wants Gore to be ready and fully confident in his delivery before he pitches in a live game again.
Talent is not the issue for Gore; rather, it’s working through the adversity he’s currently facing and becoming a better pitcher for it.
“Part of the development of the players is how they approach failure. He hasn’t had the success he’s had in recent years and that’s part of the process and development. When you throw a fastball in the mid-90s, there’s nothing wrong with your arm,” Chihuahuas manager Edwin Rodriguez said in late June when he was asked about Gore. “It’s a matter of learning how to pitch and all that. I think he is in that process, that stage of his career. We can see that MacKenzie Gore in the near future will be successful not only in Triple-A but in the big leagues. This is part of the development and the Padres are very aware of that.”
Gore was selected third overall by the Padres in the 2017 MLB Draft. Despite his struggles in 2021, San Diego still believes that the North Carolina will one day be one of the top pitchers in all of baseball. For his part, Gore certainly has the stuff to back it up. Now, it’s about harnessing his talents.