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Multi-Sport Star Grant Gray Continues Draft Surge At Boras Classic

Grant Gray Norco Edited
Grant Gray (Photo Courtesy of Nick Koza)

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. — Grant Gray entered this spring known more as a football player than a baseball player.

With each passing week, that is slowly changing.

Gray went 3-for-4 with three singles, a run scored and a stolen base out of the leadoff spot to lead Norco (Calif.) High to a 4-0 win over Villa Park (Calif.) High on the first day of the Boras Classic South tournament on Tuesday afternoon. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior led the Cougars offense and displayed his elite athleticism and versatility playing both second base and center field in front of more than 30 evaluators, including assistant general managers and senior advisors, at the annual high-profile tournament.

“It’s definitely an enjoyment,” Gray said. “I’m super grateful for the (scouts) to be here.”

Gray, 18, is a four-star wide receiver committed to UCLA to play both football and baseball. He caught 74 passes for 862 yards and 13 touchdowns in the fall and has been a top football recruit for years. He was UCLA football’s first commitment in the 2023 class and is regarded as one of the best pure athletes in the state.

His baseball progression has come along more slowly. Though his athleticism was obvious from the outset, Gray struggled to hit as an underclassman and didn’t start to produce at the plate until the end of his junior year. He did not participate in the high school showcase circuit over the summer and was busy during the fall and winter torching opposing defenses on the gridiron.

But once football season ended, Gray went to work improving as a hitter. He worked with Brewers second baseman Brice Turang and UCLA shortstop Anthony Walters, both of whom are from nearby Corona, Calif., in the offseason and picked their brains about how to get better. He hit with Turang on Norco’s campus and worked with Walters at the training facility Winner Circle Athletics in Corona. With their help, Gray learned how to translate his long levers, natural strength and copious athleticism into a consistent, productive swing and approach.

“Especially with Brice … he was kind of just telling me ‘be yourself,’ ” Gray said. “ 'You’re already a plus athlete, so just be yourself.’ ”

Since then, Gray has been turning heads on the diamond. Area scouts took immediate notice of his gains during winter workouts at Norco and made him a priority prospect. He earned an invitation to Area Codes Select at Dodger Stadium in February and excelled against the top players in the draft class. He delivered an eye-popping performance at the PBR Preseason Invitational in Irvine, Calif. to open the season, leading teams to fly scouting directors in to see him specifically. After a brief slump, he rebounded with a strong showing in the Darryl Kile Memorial Tournament last week and opened the Boras Classic with another productive performance.

Gray was previously assumed to be a safe bet to reach campus and play both sports at UCLA, with football his likely future. Now, he’s improved enough as a baseball player that some teams consider him a candidate to be drafted as high as the end of the first round.

“He’s just a premier athlete. The only other athlete I’ve ever coached that could compare to that would be Toby Gerhart,” said Norco coach Gary Parcell, referencing the former Stanford football and baseball star who was a Heisman Trophy runner-up and played six seasons in the NFL. “The freaky thing about him, and what’s so intriguing for the scouts, is just think if he was (playing) full-time baseball. They said the same thing about Toby, and Toby was one of the few guys who was able to do both in college.”

Gray’s athleticism remains his best attribute. He’s a plus runner, projects to grow into plus power, has above-average arm strength and has natural actions both at second base and in center field. His contact skills are improving, although he’s still somewhat raw and inconsistent finding the barrel. With how quickly he’s improved, though, there is a widespread belief his untapped potential is enormous.

“He’s a special one, for sure,” Parcell said. “He can do it all. He did it against premier teams. He did it in the fall. He’s done it here. He’s the real deal.”

Gray still has two months of the baseball season ahead of him. With more performances like he’s delivered so far, it’s increasingly likely he’ll have a tough decision between going to UCLA and signing for a seven-figure bonus to play professional baseball.

“If something ends up happening, I’m going to go to college no matter what,” Gray said. “If I get drafted, we’ll see what happens, but it’s definitely great to see the scouts out here.”

Walker Jenkins (Mike Janes Four Seam Images)

2023 MLB Draft: Baseball America Staff Draft V 2.0

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Eric Bitonti (Aquinas HS, San Bernardino, Calif.) hit a grand slam that proved decisive in a 6-4 win over Cypress (Calif.) High in the tournament opener. Bitonti, the No. 42 prospect in the draft class, got a 1-1 pitch over the plate and hit it over the wall in right-center just under the scoreboard at Mater Dei High School to cap a six-run second inning for the Falcons. He finished 1-for-3 with a grand slam, a lineout to center and a flyout to left. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Oregon commit made an error at shortstop when he bobbled a chopper, but he showed impressive range for his size and solid arm strength.

Trent Caraway (JSerra HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs to lead host JSerra to a 10-6 win over Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) High in the nightcap. Caraway, the No. 72 draft prospect and an Oregon State commit, singled the opposite way to right field in the first inning. With JSerra clinging to a slim 7-6 lead in the sixth, he drilled a bases-clearing double into the left-field corner to help the Lions pull away.

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