Stashed away at the Padres’ complex in Arizona for two months, MacKenzie Gore resurfaced with overhauled mechanics in mid August. He climbed his way back to Double-A San Antonio and made three starts in the Arizona Fall League before he was shut down for the winter.
The 22-year-old lefthander’s end-of-year plans included a detour to Petco Park to throw bullpens in front of new pitching coach Ruben Niebla.
Gore is not yet the same pitcher who was once the consensus top prospect lefthander in the game. He is, however, continuing to make strides, and he headlined the Padres’ 40-man roster additions in November.
“From a stuff standpoint—I think velocity and the quality of his pitches—I think that was a big positive for us,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said.
“But he’ll be the first to tell you he’s still got to tighten up a few things from a command standpoint, just get a little bit sharper . . . with some of his secondary pitches and his fastball command, but it was fun seeing him back out there.
“He had some dominant moments. And now we’ve got to make it more consistent.”
Humping his fastball up to 98 mph, Gore struck out 43, walked 16 and held hitters to a .202 average in 30.1 innings split between the Arizona Complex League, High-A Fort Wayne and Double-A upon returning from his hiatus.
The command of his fastball was not remotely as sharp as it was during his dominating 2019 season, when he recorded a 1.69 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. But it was much improved over his disastrous six-start run to the year at Triple-A El Paso that included a 5.85 ERA and 1.80 WHIP.
In the AFL, Gore was hit and miss, while continuing to sharpen mechanics that fell out of whack in 2020 at the alternate training site.
“I’m getting better,” Gore told the the San Diego Union-Tribune in October as the AFL began. “Not great, but better . . . There is comfort, but I don’t feel like I’m necessarily as dialed in compared to what it can be. But I feel good on the mound.”
— In addition to Gore, shortstop Eguy Rosario and righthanders Steven Wilson and Efrain Contreras were added to the 40-man roster to make them ineligible for the Rule 5 draft. Contreras missed all of 2021 while rehabbing Tommy John surgery. Wilson had made 10 relief appearances in the Dominican League and had struck out 14 against one walk. Rosario hit .250/.342/.344 in the Arizona Fall League and represented the Padres in the Fall Stars Game.
— To make room, righthander Reggie Lawson and outfielder Jorge Oña were outrighted to Triple-A El Paso and righty Shaun Anderson was waived. Lawson had a 9.45 ERA in four starts at Double-A San Antonio before he was shut down with shoulder soreness. Oña missed most of the year after having a bone spur removed from his right (throwing) elbow and played in two games with San Antonio before pulling a hamstring.