Even with only eight starts under his belt in the California League, it's not difficult to understand the hype behind MacKenzie Gore.
The second-ranked Padres prospect gave up three hits over five innings in his fourth scoreless outing of the season, but Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore landed on the wrong end of a pitchers' duel, falling to San Jose,1-0, in 10 innings on Friday at Excite Ballpark.
Video: Lake Elsinore's Gore records his sixth strikeout
Selected third overall in the 2017 Draft, Gore issued one walk and fanned six. Facing 19 batters, he induced five groundouts and two flyouts while throwing 46 of 74 pitches for strikes. MLB.com's No. 8 overall prospect lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.07 and his WHIP to 0.71.
Gore pitched in traffic early, allowing two singles in the opening inning. After Bryce Johnson flied out, Kyle McPherson singled to center field. The southpaw responded by striking out David Villar before surrendering another base hit to Zander Clarke. Gore got Manuel Geraldo to swing at a 2-2 pitch to end the frame.
It was smooth sailing the rest of the way for the North Carolina native, who retired 11 of the next 12 batters. A walk to John Riley in the second was the only blemish until Riley singled with one out in the fifth. Gore was able to get Jett Manning to ground out before fanning Johnson to end his night.
Gameday box score
Ranked as the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, Gore has shown no signs of the injury issues that bothered him last season. Over 42 innings, he's yielded five runs while holding opponents to a league-best .154 batting average. He has a 7.25 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and ranks second on the circuit with 58 punchouts. Only 20, he's expected to move quickly through the Padres' top-ranked farm system and could appear in big league camp next spring.
Wait. A young Padres arm rebounding from injury with a potential to make the Major League roster next season? If that sounds familiar, it is. Last year, Chris Paddack embarked on a similar path. And the 23-year-old right-hander has gone from the top prospects list to the starting rotation, well on his way to being San Diego's ace. It's a route that Lake Elsinore pitching coach Pete Zamora believes is just as attainable for Gore.
"[Gore] saw the path Chris took, how quickly he got the big leagues, so I'm sure he would love to follow on the same path," Zamora said.
However, the biggest comparison Zamora drew between the two top-caliber arms wasn't their timelines or their resilience -- it's their demeanor, something made even more impressive based on their ages.
"His professionalism, showing up every day and hammering out his routine. Not many things knock him off," Zamora said of Gore. "Even if things don't go his way, he has a plan and he knows where he wants to go. He makes it look real easy, but there's a lot of hard work put into it.
"It's pretty rare. Last year, we had it with Chris, who's right around the same style and same routine. ... These two are built the same, their routines are the same and their work ethic is the same."
2019 MiLB include
Even with such a high ceiling, Zamora -- who also worked with Gore in 2017 in the Rookie-level Arizona League -- stressed there's no urgency with his most recent student.
"He's in a great place," the pitching coach said. "When he shows when he's ready and there's an opportunity for him, I think he's going to take it and not look back."
Gore exited a game that remained scoreless until the 10th, when Randy Norris delivered a walk-off single.
Making his second start in the Giants organization, Casey Meisner matched Gore, allowing two hits and four walks while striking out four over five shutout innings.