With the 2017 Draft fast approaching (Monday to Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.com), we take a closer look at the top prospects in this year's class.Name: MacKenzie GorePosition: LHPSchool: Whiteville (N.C.) High SchoolRank on Draft Top 200: 4DOB: 02/24/1999Bats: L Throws: LHeight: 6' 2" Weight: 180 poundsCollege commitment: East
With the 2017 Draft fast approaching (Monday to Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.com), we take a closer look at the top prospects in this year's class.
Name: MacKenzie Gore
School: Whiteville (N.C.) High School
Rank on Draft Top 200: 4
Bats: L Throws: L
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 180 pounds
College commitment: East Carolina
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Innings: 63 1/3
Gore has taken his stuff to another level in his senior season after going 12-1 with an unfathomable 0.08 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings as a junior. The 18-year-old's fastball sat around 89-92 mph and topped out at approximately 94 mph last summer, but he increased his fastball velocity by about three mph this spring. Gore has been able to maintain that newfound velocity late into games, and he possesses the ability to spot the pitch on both sides of the plate. His repertoire features an emerging curveball, the best of his secondary offerings, as well as a hard slider and a tumbling changeup that keeps hitters off-balance.
Gore utilizes a big leg kick and gets nice extension with his delivery, resulting in a deceptive motion that is tough for opposing batter to time. His athleticism and competitiveness, which have Major League scouts gushing, showed when he helped Whiteville win state championships in each of his first two high school seasons (he was named MVP in both championship victories). Gore is committed to East Carolina University, but with his swift development this year, he's likely to make the jump straight to professional baseball.
Gore is Whiteville's best prospect since the mid-1980s, when the Wolfpack saw three players -- first-rounders Tommy Greene (1985) and Pat Lennon ('86) and third-rounder Chris Threadgill ('87) -- all reach the big leagues.
MLB comp: Cliff Lee
Fun fact: Only four players in North Carolina state history have recorded a better ERA for a season than Gore's 0.08, according to the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
He said it: "You have to enjoy [the attention], because if you don't enjoy it, you'll be miserable. I don't even look at the scouts. We had a freshman shortstop commit to Clemson this week, so that's a lot cooler than having scouts come to watch me." -- USA Today
They said it: "I just wanted to tell him how much he means to me. Not because of how good he is, but because of how he's handled everything. He's always put our team in front of anything else, and it's amazing to me a kid of his age has been able to handle the situation he's in with such poise." -- Whiteville coach Brett Harwood, Star News Online
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.