Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; General view of the exterior of Kauffman Stadium. The facility is the home of the Kansas City Royals. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
By now, many of you reading this (or if you’ve been reading GOTC) are somewhat familiar with left fielder Terrance Gore.
If not, I’ll get right to the point: he’s fast. Good gravy, is he ever fast. T-Go is my lead-off man for our new “Deep Sleepers” Series, where we’ll be spotlighting talented minor-leaguers who aren’t garnering much attention in the world of prospects.
The 22 year-old native of Macon, Georgia has had his times to first posted all over minor-league sites after having completed his first year in full-season ball with the Class A Lexington Legends in the South Atlantic League. Those times are generally in the 3.7 second range (or less). KC’s 20th round pick in the 2011 Draft swiped a fantastic 68 bags in 2013, with opposing catchers managing to gun him down only 8 times. That made him 121 for 131 in stolen base attempts for his short career spanning 224 games thus far. He also scored 76 runs in 128 games for a woefully-anemic Legends offense, utilizing excellent base-running instincts to go along with his easy 80 speed.
While he is on the smallish side at 5’7”, 165, Gore is in fantastic condition and is an avid weight-lifter. While he’s considered undersized for a ballplayer, he’s almost entirely solid muscle. It shouldn’t be a total surprise; Gore is cousin to San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore. The resemblance is easily noticed.
Now, let’s get down to it.
Gore has an awful lot going for him based on his speed alone. Speed is one of those tools that really has to be seen first-hand to be truly appreciated. However, we can all name a few minor-league base thieves who lit up the base-paths until they hit the majors.
The biggest cause for concern with Gore can be found in his 2013 extra-base hit total: Nine. Nine extra-base hits. In fact, he has only 19 XBH in his 224 pro games A player with his sort of speed should be able to register double digits in doubles and triples just because he’s fast, but we have yet to see that from Gore. He didn’t often looked over-matched at the plate, but he’ll have to make hard contact and square up the ball more frequently than he did in 2013 for those totals to rise. I say the strength is there, already, and that it’s just a matter of time before this happens.
He went down on strikes 120 times but still drew 62 walks. Indeed, he has consistently recorded an OBP at least 100 points higher than his batting average in each of his three seasons so far. That K% (22.2%) needs to drop considerably but Gore does show good bat control and a short and direct swing path despite the numerous Ks. He has a small strike zone and knows how to use it but he won’t be able to rely on that as he advances up the chain.
Again, it’s not like Gore had much production behind him, so I think we need to consider that. The 2013 Legends had arguably the best pitching top to bottom of any South Atlantic League team (2.99 team ERA, 2.86 SO/BB ratio) but their offense was the polar opposite (.213 team BA, 469 R, 59 HR). With even an average offense behind him, Gore could easily score 100 runs a year.
As for his glove-work, you might as well throw stats like ‘Range Factor’ out the window. Sharing the outfield with Bubba Starling means you’re sort of fighting over fly balls. Gore made a number of catches behind second base, so the range is most definitely there. He covers a lot of ground, has adequate arm strength for the position (some say fringe-average) and positions himself well for throws. He has quick reactions and typically takes good routes to the ball, though he sometimes isn’t as aware of his proximity to the wall as he ought to be but this is a matter of consistency which will come with time.
As far as intangibles are concerned, Gore’s easy-going personality and team-first attitude are every bit as valuable as his on-field contributions. Nobody is as critical of Gore as he is of himself and he is constantly looking to improve his production. If he doesn’t fulfill his potential, it won’t be his attitude that gets in the way.
2014 will tell a great deal about Gore’s future. It’s a given that he’s never going to hit for power but he can give you 25 doubles and 12-15 triples in a peak season, along with 50+ steals even at the higher levels. So much hinges on his being able to drive the ball more frequently. If he can get to Double-A in the next couple of years and hold his own in the process, he’s at least got a future as a great late-inning defensive replacement and/or pinch runner. The Royals must give him every opportunity to do so; speed like this doesn’t come along every day.
If it all comes together for Gore, he might ultimately take his thieving ways to Kaufmann, where he could easily give you 100 runs and 50 swipes in a starting role. He is definitely one to keep an eye on as 2014 gets underway.