MIDLAND, Mich. (WANE) – Top Padres pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore made his return to the TinCaps on Sunday afternoon, but the TinCaps lost the finale of their series with the Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate) 6-2, at Dow Diamond.
Gore, who’s still only 22 years old, pitched in Fort Wayne at the Low-A level in 2018 when he was 19. He began this season with Triple-A El Paso. He was transferred to the Arizona Complex League on Aug. 19 and then to the TinCaps before Sunday’s game. (The average age for a High-A Central pitcher is 23.)
The Loons (59-49) jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the first inning. Great Lakes catcher Carson Taylor plated center fielder Eddys Leonard with a sacrifice fly, top-20 Dodgers prospect Jorbit Vivas ripped an RBI single, and right fielder Jonny DeLuca drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. The “damage” was a result of three walks and one other single. A tight strike zone and a passed ball on a called strike didn’t help either.
Gore, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, settled in after that, however, throwing four consecutive scoreless innings. From the second through the fifth, the left-hander allowed just one hit and one walk, retiring the last seven hitters he faced. In all, Gore fanned five across his five-inning start. Of the 82 pitches he threw, 52 were for strikes.
Great Lakes, which leads High-A Central in home runs, slugging percentage, and on-base plus slugging, had five of LA’s top 25 prospects in Sunday’s lineup.
Meanwhile, the TinCaps (51-57) scored their first run in the third thanks to an RBI single by No. 19 Padres prospect Brandon Valenzuela. Fort Wayne cut the deficit to a run after No. 3 Padres prospect Robert Hassell III doubled and came in to score on a fielding error in the fifth.
After Gore departed, Great Lakes added two more runs in the sixth. First baseman Brandon Lewis hit his 30th home run of 2021 to lead off the frame, and left fielder Joe Vranesh tripled immediately after and later scored on a double-steal with runners at first and third. Later in the seventh, Lewis then singled in a run to extend the Loons lead to 6-2.
TinCaps right fielder Tirso Ornelas reached based four times Sunday with two walks and two singles. That’s after he was 3-for-3 with two walks Saturday. Over the six-game series, he hit .476 with a .607 OBP and 1.321 OPS.
But following the Hassell double in the fifth, the ‘Caps final three hits in the game all stayed in the infield. After going 2-13 with runners in scoring position in a loss on Saturday night, Fort Wayne went 2-12 on Sunday afternoon and stranded 11 runners on base.
Next Game: Tuesday, Sept. 7 vs. Lansing (7:05 p.m.)