Only eight months after being drafted by the Colorado Rockies with the third overall pick in the MLB draft, Jonathan Gray is entering Spring Training as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. Although it is almost certain that he will not leave Spring Training with the big league club, he has shown advanced stuff for a prospect and could be reaching Coors Field sooner than originally expected.
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 255 pounds, Gray demands respect on the mound. And if you do not give it to him based on his presence, you will once you see his 100 mph fastball. Obviously, the fastball is Gray’s bread and butter. He consistently throws it at a high velocity and surprisingly locates the pitch very well. Gray also throws an impressive slider as his strikeout pitch. It has a sharp, late break to it that constantly baffles hitters.
The biggest knock on Gray is his lack of a third pitch. He throws a changeup, but it is very far behind his other two pitches. He must be able to throw an effective third pitch before he reaches the big leagues.
After being drafted by the Rockies last year, Gray made nine minor league starts. In those nine starts, he went 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA and an incredible 12.3 K/9. He got acclimated at rookie ball before finishing his season in advanced-A, where he made five starts had a 0.75 ERA and 13.5 K/9.
After dominating class-A, I see no reason for Gray to return to that level in 2014. I think he will and should make the jump to double-A, where he will likely be tested by some of the best prospects in the game. If Gray passes the test at double-A, he will be fast-tracked to the major leagues, with a September call-up likely. Gray’s ability to fine-tune his third pitch will be the key.
Gray will get his first taste of big league talent in Spring Training, and if he performs well, it will just give the organization more confidence in his ability. Gray has legitimate top-of-the-rotation upside, and could be baffling hitters at the major league level sooner rather than later.