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Gore, Patino talk pitch arsenals, friendship

@wboor
March 22, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A 21-year-old lefty from a high school in North Carolina who signed for $6.7 million and a 19-year-old Colombian that signed for $130,000 don’t figure to have all that much in common. However, that hasn’t stopped MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino from becoming close friends. Gore and

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A 21-year-old lefty from a high school in North Carolina who signed for $6.7 million and a 19-year-old Colombian that signed for $130,000 don’t figure to have all that much in common. However, that hasn’t stopped MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino from becoming close friends.

Gore and Patino, the No. 2 and No. 6 prospects in the Padres’ system (and No. 15 and No. 48 on the Top 100) spent time together in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2017 and were together with Class A Fort Wayne in 2018 as well.

While their upbringings, as well as the languages they grew up speaking, were different, each pitcher recognized the talent in the other, and a friendship was born.

“Mac is an amazing guy,” Patino said. “For me, Mac is a friend, my best friend here from America. I think this guy is amazing, professional, personal, he’s amazing. He talks with me a lot about baseball, about life.”

Friendships rely heavily on communication, and when the two parties are from different countries that can prevent a bit of a barrier. That hasn’t been as much of a challenge for the Padres prospects, though, as Gore helps Patino with English and Patino helps Gore with Spanish.

“Sometimes when I [say] something bad, he tells me what is the [better way to say it]. Sometimes when I tell him Spanish, he only understands some things because his Spanish isn’t very good. I prefer to practice my English.”

Gore admits that his Spanish, while much improved from two years ago, it still “terrible.” On the other hand, Patino’s Englsih has come a long way.

Patino studied English in Columbia but only knew some basic words, and now he is more comfortable and speaks the language as often as possible.

“He speaks pretty good English and I help him time to time when he messes up; I just correct him,” Gore said.

Of course, they help each other on the mound too.

“He’s got great stuff,” Gore said. “He’s got a really good slider. He’s got a good fastball, too. He’s really good and we help each other with things here and there.”

While Gore jokingly said he didn’t want to take any of Patino’s pitches to add to his own arsenal, Patino acknowledged the strength of each pitcher.

“He’s got a better curveball than me and I have a better slider than him,” Patino said. “Sometimes I give him advice about the slider and he gives me tips on the curveball.”

In addition to discussing specific pitches, the duo also discuss mechanics, which has led to some similarities in their deliveries.

Gore has pitched with a massive leg kick for as long as he can remember. Patino didn’t enter pro ball with a huge leg kick, but after watching Gore pitch and discussing it a bit, the right-hander adopted the bigger leg kick and added it to his windup.

“I talked to him about his mechanics and he said, ‘Hey you copied me,’” Patino said. “I said, ‘No man. I do this because it feels good. I watched your mechanics, so I tried it and it feels good so now I do a leg kick, too.’”

As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Gore doesn’t seem to mind sharing the leg-kick-spotlight.

“In start five or six, we were like ‘Where’d that come from?’" Gore said. “It’s awesome. He can pull it off and he can do it, he’s athletic enough to do it. It’s worked for him, he had a really good year.”

There’s still plenty of development ahead for both pitchers as Gore has thrown just 82 innings as a professional and Patino’s total is at 139 1/3. However, if everything pans out the two friends are expected to be key components of the Padres’ future rotation and are likely to be pitching together in Petco Park in just a few seasons.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.