WHITEVILLE — Whiteville’s MacKenzie Gore was the named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year at a special ceremony at Legion Stadium in Whiteville on Wednesday morning.
An East Carolina recruit, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound southpaw senior pitcher is one of the top MLB prospects in the nation and is projected to be a top-10 pick in June’s MLB Draft.
Gore, who is currently 9-0 on the mound this season with a 0.22 ERA and 132 strikeouts, is the first player from North Carolina to win the award, a feat MLB players Kyle Seager — a former North Carolina Tar Heel — and three-time World Series champion Madison Bumgarner were unable to accomplish.
With his Wolfpack teammates surrounding him Wednesday morning, Gore received the trophy from former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, a two-time MLB All-Star who famously struck out an MLB-record 20 batters in just his fifth career start.
Video of the trophy presentation, which was tweeted out by Bleacher Report, flooded social media late Wednesday morning.
“It’s not anything you really expect because there are so many good players,” Gore said in the video. “It’s something you take in and enjoy. It’s just an honor.”
The award has been presented annually since 1986. Gore joins a list that includes Zach Grienke, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield.
The MVP of the 2014 and 2015 NCHSAA 1A state championship series, Gore has led the Wolfpack to a 23-6 record this season and a fourth straight appearance in the title series.
Whiteville will face Murphy in a best-of-three set this weekend at N.C. State University in Raleigh.