Pipeline names Padres Prospects of the Year

September 19th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Even in a crowded Padres farm system widely regarded as the best in baseball, left-hander MacKenzie Gore and catcher Luis Campusano stood out this year.

On Thursday, they were recognized by MLB Pipeline as the Padres' Pitching and Hitting Prospects of the Year, respectively.

Gore is arguably the best pitching prospect in baseball, and he's coming off an otherworldly season on the mound, split between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo. In 101 innings this year, Gore posted a 1.69 ERA with 135 strikeouts and a 0.83 WHIP.

A year ago, in his first full professional season, Gore dealt with blister issues and a few other minor hand and finger troubles. He never found a groove.

Gore has certainly found one this year, and he's developed into the prospect San Diego always envisioned when it drafted him third overall in 2017.

"The talent was always there," said Padres farm director Sam Geaney. "I think being fully healthy has allowed him to really grow. ... It's as good a year as probably any pitcher in our organization, maybe in the Minor Leagues. And we think there's more to come."

Backing Geaney's assertion, Gore was chosen as MLB Pipeline's Pitcher of the Year earlier this month. Chances are, he won't remain a prospect for much longer. The 20-year-old boasts a four-pitch mix that might already be big league caliber. Gore will almost certainly earn his first invite to big league camp next spring, and he'll be given a serious chance to compete for a rotation spot -- a la Chris Paddack.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

On the hitting side, Campusano was a deserving choice. While handling the sport's most taxing defensive position, he posted a .325/.396/.509 slash line with 15 home runs this season at Lake Elsinore.

More than that, reports say Campusano's defense has been solid as well. At the big league level, San Diego has an elite defender in Austin Hedges and a premium offensive talent in Francisco Mejia. But perhaps Campusano can become the two-way threat the club has been searching for.

"He's very much embraced his role on both sides of the ball," Geaney said. "It's easy to look at his offense and see the numbers he's put up have been as good as anyone in that league. But ... defensively he took his game to another level this year, too."

It's been a busy year for top Padres prospects graduating to the big leagues. Fernando Tatis Jr., Paddack, Luis Urias, Andres Munoz and Mejia have all done so.

But with top-tier young talent like Gore and Campusano, San Diego's farm system is clearly still in good hands.