Scouting the SAL: Terrance Gore


Image Credit: Clinton Riddle

Editorial Note: The following scouting report comes to us via a guest post by Clinton Riddle, author of much of the written content at CANUSA Sports Desk and a Contributing Writer at Kings of Kauffman.

There’s a pretty wide fan base in Lexington for this young man. Manning left field for the Legends, Terrance Gore has shown a little bit of what makes him such a special player. We’re talking speed, here. Speed, speed, and more speed. But I’ll get to that, momentarily. As pleasant and modest a player as you’re likely to meet, Gore seems to carry himself as if each game is just another day at work; he doesn’t complain when things go badly, and he doesn’t get a swelled head when he has a stellar game. Supremely athletic and eminently coach-able, Gore is a work in progress. But he already seems to have the mental part of the game down pat.

Name: Terrance J. Gore

Bats: Right  Throws: Right

Ht: 5’7”  Wt: 165

Born: June, 8th, 1991 in Macon, Georgia

School: Gulf Coast Community College (Panama City, FL)

Drafted: KC Royals in the 20th round, 2011 MLB Draft from Gulf Coast CC

Batting: As is often the case with speed-first players, Gore’s bat has not come along quickly. He could stand to hit the ball on the ground more often, as any ground ball to the infield must be fielded cleanly or Gore is on first. Nearly every grounder is a bang-bang play with this kid at the plate. Gore has few moving parts in his stance. He takes an upright posture at bat, with his feet spaced slightly wider than shoulder-width. He tracks the ball well from the pitcher, but his swing can get loopy and long and it costs him in terms of unintended fly balls and missed breaking pitches on the outer half of the plate. He produces almost no power (though that’s not his game, anyway), and the majority of his extra-base hits will likely always be a product of his speed. Third basemen and shortstops are constantly drawn in when he’s at bat, even in non-bunt situations, knowing that any grounder he hits must be fielded quickly and cleanly if they hope to cut him down. On bunts, Gore essentially has only to put the ball on the ground anywhere and he’s on base. There’s really no such thing as a sac bunt when you’re that fast. He does shorten up on two-strike counts, choking up a couple of inches on the bat for better control. He takes a short swing path to the ball, but his swing itself is often longer than ideal. His quick hands have allowed him to compensate for this, but only to a small degree. While he’s struck out 90 times in 425 PA so far, he will draw a fair amount of walks. His OBP is 118 points higher than his BA, and he’s managed to get hit by a pitch 15 times this year. In 197 minor-league games since 2011, he’s registered a .370 OBP, so he finds ways to get on even if he’s struggled with his hitting. It also hasn’t helped him much that nearly the entire Legends lineup has been scrapping at the plate all year. It would be truly fascinating to see what he could do with stronger bats behind him.

Fielding: Gore covers left field like a center fielder, which is what he is. On this team, however, Royals future star Bubba Starling has made center field his own. Starling has plenty of speed as well, though there have been many instances in which Gore was seen flashing past him to snatch a low fly or a liner. I’ve seen him snag at least one fly behind the second base bag, this year. From left field. He could probably cover both center AND left and not miss too many plays. Watch him in the field, and you’ll see that’s not an exaggeration. His arm is average but plays well with his combination of speed and taking direct routes to the ball. I know the sabermetric stats for him don’t seem to support that assessment, but there’s no substitute for actually watching a player. He comes in on plays better than he goes back for deep flies, and makes plays to both sides easily. He is slightly stronger to his right than his left, but the difference is hardly significant. He makes good throws and uses his cutoff man in all appropriate situations. He doesn’t have enough arm to throw out a runner at home consistently, but he can make that throw if he fields the ball near straightaway LF area.

Baserunning: If Gore gets on first, he’s just waiting for second. He basically steals second at will; in 68 stolen base attempts, he’s been caught only 7 times. He often seems to barely consider the pitcher and the idea of being picked off, and it’s really not something that will happen often anyway. Out of the box, I have had Gore’s time to first at 3.8 or less numerous times, and was told by another writer that he had him at 3.67. Gore’s speed is an 80 on the scouting 20-80 scale only because their scale tops out at 80. If he had wanted to take that path, we’d probably be reading about his track and field exploits right now instead of seeing him in the box scores. I would love to see him on a running track just once. Anyway, I digress…

Gore gets great jumps and takes reasonable leads, though he can run from an average lead and still beat the throw. His jumps are quick and he is at full-speed almost immediately. He’s a ball of fast-twitch muscle. A hit to the OF with Gore on second is a run for the Legends in  most cases, regardless of where it lands. He is without question one of the fastest, if not THE fastest base-runner in pro baseball. This is an arguable position, but if there’s a player who can get to first base faster than Gore, or round out a double around 6.5 seconds, I haven’t seen him. Billy Hamilton and/or Delino Deshields Jr. are his only true competition in this regard, in my estimation. Ruben Sosa is close, but probably just a hair slower (can’t wait to see how many readers get unruly over this opinion).

Intangibles: Gore almost always seems to be enjoying himself, and rarely gets too down over a bad at-bat. While he is easy-going, this should not be misinterpreted as indifference; Gore will play hard until the last pitch is thrown and the last out made. Players with this sort of speed sometimes give fans the impression that they are jogging after fly balls, for example (see: Ken Griffey, Jr), but it’s only because it’s much easier for them that they appear that way. Gore is as even-keeled as any player you’ll meet, and yet plays the game with a harnessed intensity uncommon in the pro game. He will barely acknowledge a great game when he has one, expecting more of himself every time he takes the field. He has spent a great deal of time in the gym. While he’s a small player, he is very strong for his size, and is cut like a professional weight lifter. He is very aware of how fortunate he is to be playing this game for a living. He also seems to make friends easily, and it never seems like he meets a stranger when I’ve been around him. He’s certainly a good clubhouse presence, from what I’ve witnessed.

Overall: There’s no sense in ignoring the facts: the track record for players on the smallish side is not good. To advance up the chain, even with his immense speed, Gore will have to beat the odds. Making Class AAA is just a matter of time for him, but it will be a matter of how the Royals organization evaluates him from a long-term standpoint as to when or for how long he is on a ML roster. There’s a lot of talent here, no question, and he has the mindset and ability to advance quickly. But his struggles at the plate will have to be overcome in order for him to make any real progress in the minors. He basically has no power in his bat, so his game will have to be as a slashing, spray hitter if he is to succeed. With such great speed, even a slight increase in hitting the ball on the ground will raise his BA dramatically. If he can maintain even a .250 BA/.330 OBP (one or the other), he’s a significant asset in the majors. Swiping 50 in the show is no stretch, at all. Worst case scenario with Gore is that he turns out to be an Eric Young type of batter with a slightly weaker bat, or a 4th outfielder making 2-3 starts a week. To me, it all hinges on that bat. I can tell you that he will do whatever work needed to make it, no question.