It’s not that often when a blockbuster trade backfires on Los Angeles boss Andrew Friedman and his front office troops. When the Dodgers packaged up and sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds last winter, there was plenty of scrutiny, especially from those who felt the team would be lacking in the power department heading into its 2019 campaign.
However, as with most of the recent deals orchestrated by management, the squad has been thriving with the outcomes. Moreover, there was a pair of top-not prospects the Dodgers received in return. At the time, many thought the duo would be shipped out immediately, but both have settled into the top tiers of the Los Angeles farm system.
One of those players is right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray.
Throwing in the hitter-friendly confines of the Cal League, Gray is coming off his best outing of the year on Friday against Lake Elsinore. He tossed seven full innings, surrendering just one run on four hits and no walks while striking out six opposing batters. One outing earlier against Inland Empire, the 21-year-old New York native struck out nine batters over five full innings of work, matching a season-high.
For the year, Gray has posted a 4-0 record with a 2.64 ERA over 12 starts between Rancho and Low-A Great Lakes. He has fanned 69 batters over 58 full innings of work and has allowed just a .210 batting average against.
As it stands now, Gray is ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Dodgers’ organization, according to MLB Pipeline.
Gray played collegiately for three years at Le Moyne College in New York. During his first two campaigns there, he was an infielder with a very strong arm, much like Pedro Baez, Dennis Santana and Brock Stewart were at certain points of their young careers.
Pitching finally stuck with the hard-throwing righty when he competed in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017. When he went back to Le Moyne the following year, all he did was go 11-0 with a ridiculous 1.25 ERA, striking out 120 batters over 93-1/3 innings. At that point, the 6’1″, 190 lb. Gray had a feeling he was destined for the bigs.
Forgoing his senior year of college, Gray was selected by the Reds 72nd overall as a supplemental pick in the 2018 draft. He made it to rookie league Greeneville just in time to make 12 starts, where he posted a 2-2 record with a 2.58 ERA and 59 punchouts over 52-1/3 innings of work. Opponents hit just .155 against him.
As far as his repertoire goes, Gray’s bread and butter is his heater, which has some natural cutting action and sits comfortably in the mid-nineties. It has been clocked as high as 98 MPH in 2018. For his age, he commands his fastball extremely well.
His slider is also considered a plus pitch, but it often lacks command, unlike his fastball. He also throws a changeup that’s also a bit raw. Presently, he’s being groomed as a starter, but based on the brilliance of his four-seamer, he may eventually end up throwing in relief.
Doug Gray from RedsMinorLeagues.com made a few notes about Josiah after watching him throw several times late last summer.
“The things you like with Josiah Gray are easily seen. He’s very athletic on the mound and has a fast arm. He’s capable of locating his fastball in the strike-zone quite well and the pitch has some movement and velocity. The slider shows itself often as an above-average offering, too. And of course, there are the numbers. Gray dominated everywhere in 2018—both in college and in the Appalachian League.”
Currently, Gray is settling into the Rancho rotation nicely, but don’t be surprised to see him bumped up to Double-A Tulsa before the end of the year, especially if he continues to have success against the potent bats of the Cal League.
Not too shabby at all for a 21-year-old pitcher.