2020 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Profiles: Few questions remain for Mackenzie Gore


Mackenzie Gore was probably the most dominant pitcher in professional baseball last season, making easy work of High A  before a brief appearance at Double-A. He posted a 1.02 ERA in 15 starts at High A Lake Elsinore in the hitter-friendly California League, where the average ERA was 4.06 last season. He’s considered the unanimous top pitching prospect in baseball, and about as safe as a 21-year-old with four starts at Double-A can be.

Numbers to Know

  • Date of Birth: 2/24/1999
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 195 lb
  • Prospect Ranks: No. 6 at Baseball America, No. 5 at MLB Pipeline, No. 5 at Baseball Prospectus
  • Scott White’s Rank: No. 6 Fantasy prospect
  • 2019: (A+, AA) 9-2, 1.69 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 101 IP, 28 BB, 135 K
  • Career: 11-8, 2.56 ERA, 1.005 WHIP, 183 IP, 53 BB, 243 K

Known Injury History

Missed time in 2018 with blisters

Strengths

It starts with the strikeout ability, which Gore has shown at every level going back to high school. Even in his tough 2018, he struck out 28.4% of opposing batters, and held that steady with his aggressive promotion to Double-A as a 20-year-old. He gets there with a four-pitch mix that features four projected above-average pitches, and which plays up further thanks to a high leg kick and long extension that keeps hitters off balance. Ask different scouts, and you’ll get different answers for what Gore’s best secondary pitch is, and even Gore himself doesn’t seem to have much of a preference. “I don’t know that any one of my off-speeds is a whole lot better than the others,” Gore told FanGraphs.com recently. “If I need a strikeout, I can go to any of them. It just depends on the situation and the count.” Good luck to hitters trying to hit a pitcher with that kind of repertoire. 

Concerns

It wasn’t shoulder or elbow injuries, but anyone who remembers Josh Beckett’s early career knows blisters aren’t necessarily a non-concern. It wasn’t an issue in 2019, which is a great sign, but it’ll stick in the back of the mind unless he makes it through 2020 without similar issues. If that feels like a relatively mild concern for a pitcher prospect, well … it is. There isn’t much Gore has done wrong since becoming a professional pitcher, so the biggest concerns are just your standard concerns for a 21-year-old pitcher — he could get hurt, he hasn’t proved he can handle the workload, yadda, yadda and yadda. We could try to pick nits here, but there don’t seem to be many to tug on. Something could go wrong, but it would come pretty much out of nowhere at this point.

Outside Take

“Gore’s athleticism on the mound is obvious, as the precocious lefty employs and consistently repeats an intense, high-leg-kick delivery before exploding towards the plate to generate huge extension over his front side. That extension gives Gore’s 92-96 mph fastball carrying life that elicits late, defensive swings from hitters on both sides of the plate, both in and outside the zone. Gore’s big mid-70s curveball, though still a plus pitch, has backed up a bit in the wake of his blister issue, while his mid-80s slider has emerged as his go-to, and at times more consistent breaking ball. Gore’s changeup is his least-used offering, though it too projects as plus, thrown with late tumbling action in the low 80s. He throws each of his four pitches for strikes and posted one of the Minors’ better swinging-strike rates in his first fully healthy season.” – MLB Pipeline

Fantasy Comparison

There are high-end comps we could make that wouldn’t seem too overly optimistic — Scott White chose Gore for his projection of the All-2020s team earlier this week — but we’ll aim for something a bit more reasonable. Unfortunately, even the “reasonable” comparisons start to feel outlandish for Gore, who has legitimate top-10 starter potential for Fantasy. Gore is a bit of a fly ball pitcher, which shouldn’t hurt him as much in Petco Park, but it does help us narrow down the comparisons, and I think 2019 Lucas Giolito is a pretty good one. Giolito uses his four-pitch mix a bit differently than Gore, but the elite strikeout rate, good control and high fly-ball rate look a lot like what Gore could be capable of pretty soon. As soon as the second half of 2020, perhaps. 

Fantasy Bottom Line

No pitching prospect is a sure thing — Giolito was about as hyped as a prospect could be back in his day, and it took him a long time to figure things out — but Gore is right there with Jesus Luzardo. Luzardo is just a bit ahead on the developmental timetable, but if the Padres wanted to be aggressive with Gore — and a shortened season might allow them to be — I have no doubt he could hold his own in the majors right now. He might do more than hold his own. Gore needs to be one of the first pitchers selected in any prospects-only draft, and can be a top-75 pick in Dynasty leagues before ever throwing a major-league pitch.  

So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda’s huge breakout last season, and find out.





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