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Gore among 79 Padres prospects at instructs

San Diego's top prospect developing in first offseason as a pro
MLB.com

While players get a taste of pro ball in their debuts, it's in instructional league play where they get a more complete picture of everything that's expected of them moving forward.

Once a player is drafted, or signs during the international signing period, he typically joins one of the organization's lower-level affiliates and plays out the rest of the season. However, once the season ends, the player goes off to instructs to gain more familiarity with the organization and, in a sense, truly begin his professional career.

While players get a taste of pro ball in their debuts, it's in instructional league play where they get a more complete picture of everything that's expected of them moving forward.

Once a player is drafted, or signs during the international signing period, he typically joins one of the organization's lower-level affiliates and plays out the rest of the season. However, once the season ends, the player goes off to instructs to gain more familiarity with the organization and, in a sense, truly begin his professional career.

"It's probably the most important time of the year," Sam Geaney, the Padres' director of player development, said. "I can't really overstate how important we view this program."

The Padres have 79 players in camp, including first-round Draft pick MacKenzie Gore, the club's No. 1 prospect.

Gore, the No. 25 overall prospect, posted a 1.27 ERA across seven starts (21 1/3 innings) with the Rookie-level AZL Padres after he was drafted. However, due to his age (18) and usage both in the AZL and at Whiteville (N.C.) High School, Gore isn't pitching in games during instructs.

What Gore is doing is getting a jump on his first offseason as a professional, one that the Padres hope will propel him toward a strong showing in his full-season debut in 2018.

"Being around this group of guys that he hasn't had relationships with and getting to know his fellow pitchers, position players, coaching staff as well as making sure he's in a good spot heading into his first offseason as well as his first full season," Geaney said. "It's been good for him."

Although games are played and game reps are certainly important, Gore's regimen certainly isn't atypical.

Instructs are heavily focused on development and setting players up for a successful future. With so many players coming from different affiliates with different skill levels in camp, everyone's on-field needs are focuses are a bit different. However, what remains a constant is the need to get everyone together, build relationships and get everyone on the same wavelength.

"We have a younger group of guys who were in this year's Draft class or this year's international signing class where, we obviously know them, but exposing them to all of our coordinators at one spot at the same time [is important,]" Geaney said. "[We are] getting that young group indoctrinated to all of our programming in the weight room before their first offseason and bigger picture, getting everyone together and building a relationship with them."

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Diego Padres