Big Fastball Speeds Josiah Gray To Double-A
A year ago, Josiah Gray was celebrating his 21st birthday when he got news that he was part of a seven-player trade between the Reds and Dodgers.
The headline on that trade involved the big money being swapped, with former all-stars Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig going to Cincinnati and Homer Bailey to the Dodgers (who immediately released him). The quick analysis pegged the deal as a salary dump.
That bothered Gray "a little bit."
"They saw two big contracts being exchanged," Gray said, "but a lot of people didn’t realize the prospects who were coming over, me and Jeter (Downs). So in having us have the years we’ve had, I think a lot of people are going back and saying, ‘Oh, that trade wasn’t only a salary dump. These kids can actually play ball and be future big leaguers.'
"It's a little bit of a sweet feeling to have this kind of year after the initial reaction."
The Reds drafted Gray in the supplemental second round in 2018 out of Division II Le Moyne in Syracuse. A year later he was the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the year after conquering two Class A levels and reaching Double-A Tulsa in mid-July.
"We obviously targeted him and really liked him," farm director Will Rhymes said. "We thought he was good. I'm not sure we knew he was this good . . . We thought we were getting a guy with a unique fastball, a guy with good strike-throwing ability and we thought we were getting a competitor.
"He kind of met and exceeded all of those expectations."
Gray worked 130 innings and recorded a 2.28 ERA while striking out 147, walking 31 and allowing just three home runs in 26 appearances. His 0.99 WHIP ranked inside the top 10 in the minors.
Gray views the Dodgers as a "great organization that does things a little differently." He embraced the positives that the trade afforded him.
As to what lies ahead for Gray in 2020, Rhymes wants to see him gain confidence in his full repertoire to attack opponents a second and third time through the order.
"He got hitters out mainly with his fastball this year," Rhymes said. "Big league hitters are really good fastball hitters."
— The Dodgers added three players to their 40-man roster before the Nov. 20 deadline to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. They added righthander Mitchell White, outfielder D.J. Peters and second baseman Zach McKinstry.
— Earlier in the month, the Dodgers also added lefthander Victor Gonzalez to prevent him from qualifying for minor league free agency. The Dodgers signed him on the same scouting trip to Mexico that also landed Julio Urias and Yasiel Puig in 2012.
— Among those left exposed to the Rule 5 draft is righthander Jordan Sheffield. Sheffield was a supplemental first-round pick and the Dodgers' third pick in that draft—behind Gavin Lux (20th) and Will Smith (32nd)— but he has not reached Triple-A in four minor league seasons.