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May 10, 2013
Dissecting the Draft: Jonathan Gray (Player Report)
Jonathan Gray | RHP | Oklahoma University
Gray in 140 characters or less:
Big, physical RHP w/durable build; stiff landing affects command; future ++ FB/SL; good workload; room for growth in stuff; potential ace.
Big, broad, thick and physical; limited flexibility in motion; athletic enough to repeat mechanics; solid actions off mound.
Gray is generally clean through his motion, with the biggest hiccup coming on his plant and running through release. He has a tendency to land on a stiff front leg, forcing glove side falloff and inconsistency in his release. The typical result is his slider being yanked left of target, and his fastball can lose spot both up in the zone and towards the LHH box. He generates his plus-plus to “80” velocity through top shelf arm speed and a strong drive in his lower half, which aids in both maintaining momentum and creating good extension towards the plate. Out of the stretch, Gray is 1.28 to 1.42 to home, with a slight tendency to have his upper- and lower-half come out of sync. With some slight improvements in flexibility and smoothing out in his landing and release, a drafting org could see another bump in Gray’s stuff, as well as in his command and already solid control.
Fastball – The velocity is easy plus-plus, sitting 94-97 with an ability to dial it up to triple-digits. The pitch comes with very good plane, making it difficult to square, and at times almost impossible for amateur bats to touch. He moves the ball around well to the four quadrants, with slight inconsistencies in command and an at times too true trajectory the only shortcomings keeping the pitch from an elite “80” grade.
Slider – His second potential plus-plus offering, Gray’s slider has release and trajectory deception with his fastball, making it difficult for batters to pick-up. He shows a high level of comfort with the pitch, throwing it to both sides of the plate to both lefties and righties, and finds a great deal of success to the glove side, dropping on the back foot of lefties and forcing righties to chase. The pitch has late action and tilt, bringing it off hitters’ swing plane and leading to lots of empty swings.
Changeup – Easily his third best pitch, the changeup is still a work in progress. For now, Gray finds success with the pitch off of some arm speed deception and the big velo delta between the offspeed and the fastball. His command of the pitch lacks well behind his command of his first two offerings, but he wields the pitch effectively enough to elicit soft contact and misses, particularly when working ahead. With minimal improvements in command and consistency it will be an average or better Major League offering.
Gray would be a potential number one overall selection in any draft class, but particularly so this year. His pure stuff is elite, he maintains his velocity and quality slider late in starts, his build is strong and durable, and his performance this spring has been lights out. Further, the coaching staff at Oklahoma has managed his workload extremely well, limiting his per-game pitch counts, and providing for lighter loads following starts in which he ran into more trying innings. There is little in the way of true red flags, though there is something to be said for his limited track record and the general uncertain that comes with the shift to a pro workload on lesser rest. Gray is almost certain to come off the board in the first three picks and profiles as a front-end starter with true ace upside.
Projected position: Front-end starter; #1/#2
Suggested draft slot: Early-1st Round; consideration for top 5 overall