Moments before the San Diego Padres announced the third selection in Monday’s Major League Baseball Draft, the MLB Network broke for a commercial. MacKenzie Gore, sitting in the living room of his Whiteville home with family members and high school coaches, inadvertently sat on the TV’s remote control.
The anxious moments awaiting his selection by the Padres were alleviated a minute later when a Twitter post popped up on his cellphone. Gore was, indeed, the third pick in the draft, a position that most certainly will sway him into soon signing a professional contract and heading off into San Diego Padres farm system later this summer.
“Every young baseball player’s dream is to play in the big leagues,” Gore said, “and I’ve been blessed to get a legitimate shot.”
For the occasion of the draft, the Gores catered barbecue and chicken from Joe’s BBQ Kitchen in Whiteville. Evan and Selena Gore and their daughters, Meredith and Lexie, were joined by Whiteville High baseball coach Brett Harwood, his wife, Karen, and pitching coach, Fielding Hammond.
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When MacKenzie announced the news to the gathering and it later was revealed on the MLB Network, the family cheered wildly and hugs were exchanged all around. Gore’s rise up the draft board was meteoric, from being projected as an early second-round pick during the offseason to near the top of the first round by the end of a spectacular senior season in high school.
The Padres certainly took note of the left-handed Gore’s 11-0 pitching record and 0.19 earned run average with 158 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings. Most impressive, as MLB Network noted following the pick, was the miniscule five walks issued by the 6-foot- 3, 183-pound Gore.
Not long after the selection, Gore received phone calls from San Diego general manager A.J. Preller, amateur scouting director Mark Conner and area scout Nick Brannon.
Gore and his family now move into the contract negotiation phase of the process. If he does not sign a contract with the Padres by July 15, he will attend East Carolina. That is where Gore first committed, and later signed to play for the Pirates.
The pre-determined bonus slot value set by Major League Baseball for being selected third in the draft is $6,668,100, according to Baseball America. The Padres can negotiate that bonus figure, either higher or lower, but are expected to stay in that range so they do not exceed heir total bonus pool for all of their draft signees, which is $11,839,000.
Only 23 players who were selected among the top 10 picks in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965 have not signed a professional contract. So it is highly unlikely that Gore would turn down that kind of money.
If he signs, Gore would be sent to San Diego for an official signing party and to undergo another physical examination. He already opted in to a pre-draft physical that showed him with no arm injuries.
Gore will likely then be sent to one of San Diego’s two teams in the AZL, a rookie level of play in Peoria, Arizona. From there, he could be moved to the Tri-City Devils in the short-season Northwest League in Pasco, Wash.
Each step will be made in the continuation of what Evan Gore said has been a wild ride.
“You’re proud of him,” MacKenzie’s father said. “You also think ahead to the challenges you know he’s going to face. We know that he’s prepared. He’s had a great group, the whole community that has helped put in him in this place and instilled the values that you know he needs to succeed.
“You hope and pray that he remembers who he is and where he came from.”