MacKenzie Gore, a top prospect for the San Diego Padres. Photo credit: Jerry Espinoza, via MiLB.com

MLB Pipeline, which tracks up-and-coming minor league talent, named a San Diego Padres prospect 2019 Pitcher of the Year.

MacKenzie Gore, 20, played for both the team’s Class-A affiliate in Lake Elsinore and its Class-AA affiliate in Amarillo this season.

Gore struck out 135 batters and posted a 1.69 ERA in 20 starts, according to MLB.com. He also pitched one inning in the All-Star Futures game this season.

In accomplishing those feats, Gore bounced back from problems with blisters in his first full professional season.

Seeing Gore “healthy from the beginning of the season to the end really allowed his stuff to shine through,” Padres farm director Sam Geaney told MLB.com.

The Padres drafted Gore as the No. 3 pick in 2017 out of Whiteville High School in North Carolina. He’s the latest in a series of promising prospects, led by Fernando Tatis Jr., already making or expected to make an impact for the Padres.

The annual awards are a sign of good things to come. Last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays, received the Pitcher of the Year honor in 2015.

Former Pipeline Hitters of the Year in the big leagues include 2019 rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr., current National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna, Alex Bregman and former NL MVP Kris Bryant.

– Staff reports

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