- Full name Jonathan Charles Gray
- Born 11/05/1991 in Shawnee, OK
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Oklahoma
- Debut 08/04/2015
Drafted in the 1st round (3rd overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 2013 (signed for $4,800,000).
View Draft ReportGray's metamorphosis from a live-armed but chubby high schooler to a potential No. 1 overall choice is reminiscent of Stephen Strasburg's. His stuff calls to mind Gerrit Cole, another top overall pick. Drafted in the 13th round out of an Oklahoma high school in 2010 by the Royals and in the 10th round out of Eastern Oklahoma State JC in 2011 by the Yankees, Gray steadily improved before exploding in his second season with the Sooners. After maxing out at 94 mph in high school, he now works comfortably at 94-97 and can hit 100 mph while looking like he's just playing catch. Gray's fastball also features heavy life. He shows the ability to dial it down to 92-94 in the middle innings before turning it back up toward the end of games, a la Justin Verlander. He has refined his slider into a wipeout pitch with depth and bite, and he can make hitters look silly with an improved changeup that bottoms out at the plate. Gray has firmed up his frame to a solid 6-foot-4 and 239 pounds, and he has his delivery and his pitches more under control than ever. He has maintained a high level of performance all spring, carrying an 8-1, 1.20 record with a 104-16 K-BB ratio and a .166 opponent average through his first 12 starts. If the Astros pass on Gray with the No. 1 selection, it will be an upset if he gets past the Cubs at No. 2.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Rockies drafted Gray third overall in 2013 with visions of the big righthander one day fronting the major league rotation. He signed for a franchise-record $4.8 million, which was eclipsed two years later by Brendan Rodgers' $5.5 million bonus. An ace at Oklahoma, Gray had been drafted twice before. The Royals took him out of Chandler (Okla.) High in the 13th round in 2010, and the Yankees drafted him a year later in the 10th round out of Eastern Oklahoma State JC. Due to Gray's heavy workload with the Sooners, the Rockies proceeded cautiously, limiting him to 37 innings following the 2013 draft. Gray tired near the end of his first full season at Double-A Tulsa in 2014, and the Rockies shut him down with shoulder fatigue in late August after 124 innings. He began 2015 at Triple-A Albuquerque and struggled mightily in April, going 0-3, 10.70 and allowing 32 hits in 18 innings. But Gray regrouped to go 6-6, 4.33 en route to an Aug. 4 callup to the big league club. Working with an innings cap and limited pitch counts, Gray went 0-2, 5.53 ERA in nine starts for the Rockies. Like many Rockies pitchers before him, Gray pitched much better on the road (0-1, 2.70 in four starts) than he did in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field (0-1, 8.27 in five starts). Some contend that Gray threw harder at Oklahoma, where he touched as high as 102 mph pitching with six days of rest. The Rockies say any talk of diminished velocity is folklore. Gray showed more than enough fastball at the major league level, living 92-96 mph and topping out at 98. What's changed most for Gray is command of the pitch, which--after a rocky first month--improved enough in 2015 for Gray to earn a big league promotion. Locating his fastball low in the zone will be crucial for survival at Coors Field, because Gray has been a flyball pitcher (0.85 groundout-to-airout ratio) in 276 minor league innings. His greatest bat-missing asset is a hard, late-breaking slider at 84-89 mph that generated a 22 percent whiff rate and resulted in 19 of Gray's 40 big league strikeouts, according to Pitch f/x data. Gray is able to throw his slider for strikes--backdooring it on the outside corner to lefties--and gets swings and misses with its sharp downward action. Gray still needs to gain consistency with his breaking ball, but it can be devastating when he throws it correctly. He continues to make strides with his changeup, a firm 83-87 mph pitch with fade that has above-average potential. Gray's delivery is short and efficient, starting essentially from the stretch position, and the Rockies have helped him gain more downward angle and plane on his pitches. The future is now for Gray, who should have every chance to pitch in the 2016 rotation. He showed flashes of dominance in his brief big league stint last season and has the stuff to be a top-flight starter--probably with a ceiling as a No. 2 on a pennant contender--but he will need to learn how to pitch at Coors Field to truly capitalize on his potential.
Gray signed for a franchise-record $4.8 million after being taken third overall in the 2013 draft, topping the $3.9 million lefthander Tyler Matzek received in 2009. Gray began his pro career at Rookie-level Grand Junction, where he was told to throw only one slider per batter because he had thrown the pitch excessively at Oklahoma. He moved up to high Class A Modesto and went 4-0, 0.75 in five starts after the restriction was lifted. At Double-A Tulsa in 2014, Gray dealt with the rigors of his first full season and was shut down with shoulder fatigue after an Aug. 20 start and didn't return. After reaching 102 mph on multiple occasions in 2013 and sitting at 95-96 with his four-seam fastball in 2013, Gray topped out at 96 and pitched around 94 in 2014. He has above-average command of his fastball for someone who throws that hard. Gray tired as the 2014 season progressed, causing his front side to slightly drift open, and he wasn't able to maintain the on-line delivery he had earlier. He had enough feel that he could make the adjustment with his changeup, but he got around his slider a little bit. His changeup is above-average at 87-88 mph with a little run and sink, and Gray has plus command of the pitch. His slider is average but has the potential to be above-average and an out pitch. Expect Gray to begin 2015 at Triple-A Albuquerque, and he could easily reach the majors. He has a durable frame and projects to be as good as a No. 2 starter. His biggest advancements will come once he learns to read hitters and situations and develop pitchability with his quality stuff.
The Rockies had Gray ranked atop their draft board in 2013 and were ecstatic when the Astros chose Mark Appel and the Cubs selected Kris Bryant, allowing Colorado to take Gray with the third overall pick. He signed for a franchise-record $4.8 million, well above the previous mark of $3.9 million given to 2009 first-rounder Tyler Matzek. Gray had been drafted twice previously. The Royals took him in the 13th round in 2010 out of Chandler (Okla.) High. He went to Eastern Oklahoma State JC, where the Yankees took him in the 10th round in 2011. He rejected New York's $500,000 offer and transferred to Oklahoma, where he got in better shape. In his junior season at OU, Gray went 10-3, 1.64 in 17 starts with 147 strikeouts and 24 walks in 126 innings. In the pre-draft drug testing, he tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall, a stimulant that cannot be used without a waiver under the Major League Baseball policy on performance-enhancing substances. As a result, he will be subject to additional testing during his professional career. Gray is the fourth college righthander drafted by the Rockies in the first round, following John Burke (Florida, 1992), Jason Jennings (Baylor, 1999) and Greg Reynolds (Stanford, 2006). Because of his college workload, the Rockies limited him to no more than five innings in any start, and after accumulating 163 innings between college and pro ball, the Rockies scratched him from his final start at high Class A Modesto. The Rockies have never had a power pitcher with command as sharp as Gray's. Ubaldo Jimenez threw nearly as hard but didn't have Gray's command. Gray sits at 95-96 mph with his four-seam fastball that ranges from 93-100 and on multiple occasions hit 102. His heater has good finish with a small amount of run and little, if any, sink. The pitch has only a bit of movement, understandable given the high velocity. Because Gray had thrown his slider excessively at Oklahoma, the Rockies limited him to throwing one slider per batter at Rookie-level Grand Junction. That restriction was removed at Modesto, where he was virtually unhittable. Gray has an 85-88 mph slider with tight, late break when thrown properly, but it can get big at times and needs more consistency. He has a good feel for a straight changeup that needs more work, not surprising since it wasn't a necessary pitch in college. But when he keeps it down, his changeup is 83-87 mph with slight fade. Gray has three very good pitches, and the Rockies expect that all will be above-average offerings. Power pitchers are often burdened by walks, which shouldn't be the case with Gray, whose command is good thanks to an efficient delivery. He'll start at Double-A Tulsa and could reach the majors at some point during the 2014 season. His combination of power and efficiency makes him a potential No. 1 starter.
Gray's metamorphosis from a live-armed but chubby high schooler to a potential No. 1 overall choice is reminiscent of Stephen Strasburg's. His stuff calls to mind Gerrit Cole, another top overall pick. Drafted in the 13th round out of an Oklahoma high school in 2010 by the Royals and in the 10th round out of Eastern Oklahoma State JC in 2011 by the Yankees, Gray steadily improved before exploding in his second season with the Sooners. After maxing out at 94 mph in high school, he now works comfortably at 94-97 and can hit 100 mph while looking like he's just playing catch. Gray's fastball also features heavy life. He shows the ability to dial it down to 92-94 in the middle innings before turning it back up toward the end of games, a la Justin Verlander. He has refined his slider into a wipeout pitch with depth and bite, and he can make hitters look silly with an improved changeup that bottoms out at the plate. Gray has firmed up his frame to a solid 6-foot-4 and 239 pounds, and he has his delivery and his pitches more under control than ever. He has maintained a high level of performance all spring, carrying an 8-1, 1.20 record with a 104-16 K-BB ratio and a .166 opponent average through his first 12 starts. If the Astros pass on Gray with the No. 1 selection, it will be an upset if he gets past the Cubs at No. 2.
Minor League Top Prospects
Gray, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, advanced to Triple-A this season before making his major league debut in August. Just as the Rockies do in Colorado, the Isotopes make use of a humidor at their home park, but pitching in Albuquerque remains a difficult task. Gray's 4.33 ERA in 114 innings was the highest of his career, and he saw his hit rate (10.2 per nine innings) and walk rate (3.2) both climb. Gray's stuff, however, remains powerful. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, peaking at 98 mph, and he typically pounds the zone with the pitch. His slider, which can reach 90 mph, can be an above-average offering, and he also throws a solid changeup. Gray still has work to do to refine his command and learn how to pitch at altitude. If he can fine-tune those parts of his game, he has the stuff to become a front-line starter in the big leagues.
The Rockies limited Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, to just nine starts during his draft year, but they largely let him loose this season with an aggressive promotion to Tulsa. He responded by ranking among the league leaders in opponent average (.237), strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and WHIP (1.19). Gray overwhelmed hitters when his fastball, slider and changeup were working, like when he retired the first 17 batters of an April 23 start against Arkansas. He works off an upper-90s fastball that can reach triple digits, a sharp-biting slider that he can cut like a fastball and a much-improved changeup with movement that was particularly effective against lefthanders. "A lot of times they were helicoptering the bat to the second baseman," Tulsa manager Kevin Riggs said of Gray's changeup. Gray still is fine-tuning an effective curveball that he locates for strikes. He ran into trouble when he left his fastball up in the zone, and one TL manager noted that he seemed to pitch better after giving up a few hits. Others described him as a bulldog. "He just attacks constantly, and his cutter is really good," Arkansas manager Phillip Wellman said.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Texas League in 2014
- Rated Best Fastball in the Colorado Rockies in 2014