The Royals optioned outfielder Terrance Gore to NW Arkansas on Wednesday. Though I am sure Gore would like to keep collecting major-league paychecks, the demotion was good for his career.
The Kansas City Royals seem to look at Terrance Gore as no more than a gadget player. KC Royals manager Ned Yost commented about Gore to Kansas City Star beat writer Rustin Dodd on April 30:
"“The one tool that he has, his best tool, it helps us win ballgames right now,” Yost said. “So that’s what we’re looking to do.”"
As Dodd pointed out on Friday, it’s telling that the Kansas City Royals didn’t seem to be very concerned about Terrance Gore missing more than a month of development time by acting as a pinch runner in Kansas City.
Notice that super-athletic Bubba Starling isn’t on the KC Royals roster to act as a defensive replacement, or Whit Merrifield hasn’t gotten any consideration for a pinch runner role with the big club despite 16 stolen bases without a caught stealing in a little over a month in Omaha.
Terrance Gore is going to have to change minds within the Kansas City Royals organization if he ever wants to be anything more than a gadget player. He’s not going to do it while sitting on the bench in KC, batting against pitching machines. He turns 25 in June, so he’s rapidly running out of development time.
He needs to hit against live pitching. Plus, he needs to succeed.
The 5’7″ 165 pound Gore enjoyed his first good season in the higher minors last year at AA NW Arkansas. While his only hit .284/.367/.311 for an OPS of .677, it was his highest batting and on base percentage since he hit .340/.447/.407 in rookie league as a 20-year-old.
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Forget about Gore’s complete lack of power. Yes, he hit only four doubles and one triple in 222 AA at bats last season. The key for Gore’s major-league future is for him to simply get on base. With 207 stolen bases against only 19 caught stealing, Terrance Gore is a unique threat one he’s on base. To put him in perspective, Gore has a higher stolen base percentage than all-time stolen base king Rickey Henderson when Henderson was in the minor-leagues.
Remember, Henderson came up through the minor leagues, BEFORE the slide step became widespread among pitchers.
So, all Gore needs to do to succeed is to play great defense and get on base. If he can walk, bunt, and dink his way to first base, he can become an everyday player in the major-leagues—as long as he retains his speed. He needs to keep the ball on the ground and make contact against outfield defenses that are surely playing shallow against him. HE also need more than 222 at bat in the high minors to make anything think he can do it on a regular basis.
However, the odds are stacked against him—as they pretty much always are for a little guy. Since I’m 5’7″ and 170 pounds myself, I can’t help but cheer for him.
Terrance Gore will probably never pull it off. But KC Royals fans can all dream a little bit along with him. He’s a lot more like us than those gifted freaks of nature that play major-league baseball for a living.