The Colorado Rockies organization has announced that Jonathan Gray, the #3 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, will make his professional debut on July 10th when the Grand Junction Rockies (Short Season A/Rookie level) host the Billings Mustangs. Grand Junction’s Assistant General Manager, Mike Ruvolo, confirmed the report yesterday.
Gray is only expected to pitch about three innings in the start, as the Rockies are being cautious with his arm. Gray signed back on June 12, but the Rockies have been letting him rest and recover after his junior season at Oklahoma University. Gray has thrown 126 1/3 innings in 2013, a heavy workload for a 21 year old. Ryan Kibler, pitching coach for the Grand Junction Rockies, said the following about Gray
“He had a long season. We want to go nice and slow and make sure he’s just right and ready to go. We didn’t want to rush him along at all. He’s everything that he’s cracked up to be, especially watching him yesterday with some hitters standing in there throwing his fastball down in the strike zone and by some guys. It was fun to watch. He’s for real.”
Signing Gray and putting him on the mound a week later was probably a tempting proposition for Colorado, but giving him a month to recuperate is a smart plan. As much as Rockies fans probably want to see him pitching in Denver as soon as possible, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be getting anywhere close to there in 2013. Colorado does not have a reputation for putting players, particularly pitchers, on the fast track to the majors. In all likelihood, Gray will not make his debut until mid-to-late 2015 at the earliest.
With that being said, the Rockies have never had a pitching prospect quite like Gray before. Colorado didn’t rush first-round picks Greg Reynolds or Jeff Francis through the minor leagues, but neither of those guys have (or had) the talent or big game experience that Gray possesses. I still don’t believe that it’s particularly likely, but if there were ever a guy with stuff capable of handling a quick rise to the big leagues, Gray is that guy.