Jon Gray Set for Feature Role with Rockies in 2016?


Jon Gray, selected third overall in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, looked good at times in his first stint with the Colorado Rockies; thus, is he ready for a feature role in the rotation in 2016?

The Colorado Rockies selected Jon Gray in the first round (third overall) of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. While a member of the Sooners, Jon Gray demonstrated his elite velocity, regularly hitting triple digits on the radar gun. Gray’s plus velocity vaulted him up team’s draft boards, and the Rockies ended up drafted the hard-throwing righty in the first round.

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Jon Gray looked poised to join the Colorado Rockies’ rotation rather quickly after being selected third overall out of college; however, in 2014, he saw a dip in his velocity and consistency. The added workload of a professional season likely played a big factor in Gray’s loss in velocity. Entering the 2014 season, Baseball America rated Jon Gray as the 12th best prospect in baseball, and rated him as the 14th best. Regardless, he entered his first full professional season as one of the best prospects in baseball.

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After spending 2013 between the Rookie League and High-A levels, the Colorado Rockies decided to promote Jon Gray to Double-A Tulsa. Gray spent the duration of the 2014 season with the Drillers, accumulating 24 starts on the season. Gray put together a solid season, boasting a 10-5 record. Also, Gray regained his premium velocity he showcased in college, routinely hitting the high 90s. Gray finished the season with a 3.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 3.43 FIP. Moreover, he struck out nearly a batter an inning, finishing with an 8.18 K/9.

Following Jon Gray’s first full professional season, the Colorado Rockies promoted him to the Triple-A level to begin 2015. Gray almost ended up with the Rockies out of Spring Training at the beginning of 2015, but the Rockies believed he needed more work to iron out some of his command issues. Jon Gray started the 2015 season out poorly, but he regained traction at Triple-A to show he belonged in the MLB. With Triple-A, Gray posted a 4.33 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 3.88 FIP.

Jon Gray spent most of the 2015 season in Triple-A, but the Colorado Rockies decided to promote their highly touted rookie in August of 2015. Upon Gray’s call up, the Rockies decided to put him on a strict pitch count limit per outing. The pitch count limit forced Gray to exit games early; thus, he was unable to register a win in his first stint with the Rockies. Gray started his rookie season with seven-straight no decisions; however, he never pitched more than six innings in any of his nine appearances for the Rockies in 2015.

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Jon Gray finished the 2015 season, as a member of the Colorado Rockies, with an 0-2 record, 5.53 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 3.63 FIP. While his ERA and WHIP are below average, Gray’s FIP hints that he may have been the victim of bad luck. Gray struggled with his command in his first stint with the Rockies, but he will look to hone in on this aspect of his game entering Spring Training next season. With the Rockies thin at quality starting pitching, Gray figures to be a key figure in the Rockies’ rotation in 2016.

The Rockies’ rotation will look similar to how they ended the 2015 season; however, they likely add Tyler Chatwood back to the mix. Jon Gray presents the most upside out of any pitcher the Rockies roll out next season, and the team hopes he turns into a front-line ace. However, they must take a wait-and-see approach. With Gray never pitching more than six innings in 2015, he must learn, on the fly, how to go deeper into games and approach MLB hitters. Gray needs to learn how to adjust to hitters each time through the lineup, because the Rockies sheltered him from facing hitters more than twice in his first time with the team.

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It remains to be seen if the Colorado Rockies decide to make any moves in the 2015-2016 offseason to bolster their pitching staff. However, whatever moves may happen, Gray will remain with the team, barring an unbelievable offer. Gray enters 2016 as a rookie despite logging experience in 2015. Look for Jon Gray and Jorge De La Rosa to headline the Rockies’ one-two punch heading into 2016, but it may be another long season in the Mile High City in 2016. Keep an eye on Jon Gray in Spring Training next season.