WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — Sorry, East Carolina fans. MacKenzie Gore will not be wearing purple and gold next spring for the Pirates. And he has nearly seven million reasons why.
Gore, a left-handed pitcher who led Whiteville High School to a state championship and was named Gatorade National Player of the Year (in addition to state honors), signed with the San Diego Padres over the weekend. The No. 3 overall pick in this month’s MLB Draft got a $6.7 million signing bonus.
“My goal was always to be the best player in the country, so in the offseason, I worked hard and got a lot stronger,” Gore told Padres.com. “Now I feel like, not in a cocky way, but I am the best player in the country.”
Padres General Manager A.J. Preller said the team’s excitement over Gore, who had signed to play at East Carolina, when he attended a Whiteville game earlier this year.
“It’s very rare that you see players that excite you. You left that game that day, and we couldn’t stop talking about him, honestly,” Preller said. “A week later, we had an opportunity to sit down with his family, sit down with him and kind of hit him between the eyes and find out what he was truly about… We left that meeting, we were probably high-fiving in the parking lot.”
After signing with San Diego, Gore threw out the first pitch before the Padres game Saturday night against Detroit at Petco Park.
Preller said Gore headed to Arizona Sunday to start a throwing program. The Padres expect him to join one of their two Arizona Rookie League teams later in the summer.