Dylan Ray was only a handful of starts into his first full season as a pro, but the 22-year-old righthander already has some in the D-backs’ organization viewing him as someone who might be a part of their next wave of starting pitchers.
Ray has at least three usable pitches, throws strikes, works hard and is demonstrating a feel for pitching. He also has a good build for a starter. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds.
His early results weren’t bad, either. Through five starts, Ray had a 3.75 ERA with 32 strikeouts and just three walks in 24 innings at High-A Hillsboro.
“People thought he was kind of raw coming in as a starter, but he’s got a lot more feel than was advertised,” Hillsboro pitching coach Gabriel Hernandez said.
“He knows how to work. His routine is great. He goes about his business professionally. And everything we’ve thrown at him to improve, he’s achieved it for the most part.”
Ray sits around 93 mph with his high-carry fastball, a pitch he can occasionally bump up into the 96-97 range. He has a hard, tight slider with tilt. He has also developed a changeup with good depth that gives him a weapon against lefthanded hitters.
“He has the makeup and the work ethic and the body to possibly be a big league starter,” D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said. “I think that’s high praise because there’s a lot that goes into that. It’s not easy to do.”
Arizona drafted Ray in the fourth round out of Alabama last year despite his limited track record due to injuries. He blew out his knee playing football in high school, then needed Tommy John surgery in college.
Ray’s only experience pitching in college came last year—he threw 31.1 innings in relief—but the D-backs believed he had the repertoire and makeup to eventually start.
Hernandez said Ray shows an aptitude for pitching that belies his inexperience.
“I’ll ask him questions throughout the game and he’ll give me reasons and good answers for why he did something,” Hernandez said. “Some of the mistakes that he’s made, he’s adjusted and come back the next game and succeeded and got better off of those mistakes.
“The learning curve for him is a little smaller.”