MacKenzie Gore is expected to be a top 10 pick this month when the 2017 MLB Draft takes place. On Wednesday the Whiteville, North Carolina senior received a special honor.
Gore was awarded the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award which is given out annually to the best player in high school baseball since 1986. He becomes the first player from the state of North Carolina to win the award.
But how Gore received the award was pretty damn cool.
Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood surprised Gore with the award:
Gore is a pitcher who is committed to East Carolina University for the Fall but will likely go pro due after being mocked in the top 10.
Wood was selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft straight out of high school. In an interview with ChiCitySports, Wood discussed what the process would be like for a player like Gore.
“At this point, it’s all a whirl wind,” Wood said on Wednesday. “The kids are having the times of their lives. I’m sure it’s been a whirl wind, all of the draft talk, all of the scouts coming in. All 30 teams are looking at you.”
Wood made an immediate impact, winning the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year award with the Cubs. And who can forget his 20-strikeout game in that season?
Looking back, there’s very little Wood would change about his journey with the Cubs in the big leagues. But he did note something.
“Working harder,” Wood said. “I could have worked a lot harder looking back on it. I should have worked harder. That’s the only thing I’m critical of. I got a lot of heat for throwing pitches in the state championship game when I knew I was going to go pro right away.”
The pitcher also noted that the draft is a lot different these days. Back when Wood was drafted, he received a phone call. Now the players are at the draft, including Gore who will hear his name called live.
As for how the Cubs are doing now? Well, Wood knows this team is just too talented to struggle like this. He sees them turning it around.
“It’s normal stuff,” Wood said. “The team had the shortest offseason anyone in this organization has ever had. A young team, coming in and getting off to a slow start. A young team that started pressing a little more. Tried to make it happen right away.
I’d like to see them turn the corner this week and get things back on track.”