Gatorade® National Baseball Player of the Year: MacKenzie Gore

MacKenzie Gore receiving Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year trophy
Photo: MacKenzie Gore receiving Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year

Two Time MLB All Star Kerry Wood Surprises Winner with Award

In its 32nd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced MacKenzie Gore of Whiteville High School (Whiteville, N.C.) as its 2016-17 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year during a surprise at his home baseball field.

“MacKenzie really deserves to be this year’s Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year because he embodies everything the award stands for,” said Kerry Wood. “Not only has MacKenzie excelled on the field, but he’s also a stellar student and is a positive influence in the community. I’m excited to follow his career and watch all the things he will accomplish in the future.”

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Gore as the nation’s best high school baseball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select MacKenzie from nearly 470,000 high school baseball players nationwide. MacKenzie is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

The 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior left-handed pitcher, outfielder and first baseman had led the Wolfpack to a 21-6 record and a berth in the Class 1A semifinals at the time of his selection. Gore posted a 9-0 record on the mound with a 0.22 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 63.1 innings through 27 games. Ranked as the nation’s No. 4 recruit in the Class of 2017 by Baseball America and No. 5 by Perfect Game, he also batted .480 with six home runs, 25 RBI and an .880 slugging percentage. A member of the National Honor Society, Gore has volunteered on behalf of Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego and in association with his church youth group.

MacKenzie Gore is one of the most exciting left-handed prep pitching prospects to come along in years,” said Jim Callis, Senior Writer for “I’ve talked to more than a few evaluators who think he’s the best pitching prospect in this draft, college or high school, lefty or righty. All four of his pitches can grade as plus offerings, he throws strikes, and his delivery adds to his package with a high leg kick and good extension. He’s definitely getting drafted as a pitcher, but he’s a talented hitter as well.”

Gore has maintained a 4.07 weighted GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at East Carolina University this fall, but is projected as an early round selection in June’s Major League Baseball draft.

“MacKenzie is an exceptional student-athlete who has earned recognition as the nation’s best high school baseball player while also excelling in the classroom and making a difference in his community,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “MacKenzie’s statistics on the field speak for themselves, but even more impressive is the impact he has had on his teammates and the example he sets for younger student-athletes. MacKenzie represents everything we look to celebrate in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient.”

As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Gore also has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for his organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:

  • Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
  • 2015 NBA first overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Three-time WNBA champion Maya Moore
  • Seven-time track & field gold medalist Allyson Felix
  • Three-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh
  • Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw

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