A familiar face is returning to Fort Wayne.
MacKenzie Gore, the No. 26 prospect in baseball according to Fangraphs and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, has been added to the TinCaps' roster, according to the Minor League Baseball transactions log.
It is unclear when the tall left-hander will pitch for the TinCaps, but he last pitched Monday in the Arizona Complex League, so normal rest would call for him to pitch this weekend. Fort Wayne has Carlos Guarate listed as Saturday's starter and Danny Denz scheduled to go Sunday. Obviously, that could be shuffled around if the Padres dictate.
Gore pitched for Low-A Fort Wayne all of 2018, his age-19 season, going 2-5 with a 4.45 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. He dealt with blister issues on his pitching hand all season, but he pitched well enough to earn a promotion to High-A to start 2019. He dominated there, posting a 1.02 ERA before getting promoted to Double-A to finish the campaign. He was then sent to Triple-A to start the 2021 season, but that's where he really struggled for the first time in his pro career, walking 12 batters in 20 innings and compiling a 5.85 ERA.
Those struggles caused the Padres to send him back to the team's complex in Arizona in June to work on his mechanics and try to cure his command issues. After two months off from pitching in an official game, Gore popped up in the Arizona Complex League on Aug. 19 and he made three starts there, posting a 1.65 ERA with 22 strikeouts and four walks in 16 1/3 innings (including six innings in his most recent start). His fastball velocity sat 92-95 mph in those starts, according to MadFriars, a Padres farm system website. That's similar to what it was before Gore left Triple-A for repairs. His exaggerated leg kick reportedly remains intact, although it is not as high as it was before. The bottom line seems to be that San Diego tried to simplify the many moving parts in Gore's delivery to make his motion more repeatable.
It is unclear how many starts the southpaw might make in Fort Wayne, but it's possible the Padres are aiming for the No. 3 prospect in the team's system to make his MLB debut before the end of the season. Before that could happen, he'd likely have to pitch well for the TinCaps.