While the next few weeks will see a handful of young, worthy prospects added to the Dodgers‘ big league expanded roster, there is still a slew of emerging superstars that remains on the fringe, out of the eye of the mainstream public.
Los Angeles management likes to refer to this as its “next wave” of player talent.
One such player among this group is righty pitcher Josiah Gray. At just 21 years of age, he has already elevated to the Double-A level. And, considering the way he has produced this season, the New York native could see Triple-A time early in his 2020 campaign.
In case you’ve forgotten, Gray was part of the package the Dodgers received when they sent sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Reds last winter. Once he began to acclimate himself onto the Los Angeles farm, Gray was considered by many of the media outlets to be a legitimate Top 20 team prospect. However, when the smoke started to settle on the 2019 season, he has shot his way up into the Top 5 rated prospects in the entire organization.
Gray has thrown across three levels of the farm this year and has not let any of the higher levels of competition deter him. He is coming off his second-career minor league Pitcher of the Week award just a few weeks ago when he just allowed one earned run over two starts for Double-A Tulsa.
For the year, he has tallied a 10-2 record with an impressive 2.10 ERA over 23 starts. What’s more, he has struck out 136 batters in 124-1/3 innings this season and has posted a miniscule 0.96 WHIP.
Since his promotion to Tulsa on July 17, Gray has gone 2-2 with a 2.14 ERA over four starts. He has made one relief appearance last week which suggests that team management has approached a point where they have decided to limit the youngster’s innings down the stretch run of the regular season.
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 and Dennis Santana were at certain points of their young careers.
Pitching finally stuck with the hard-throwing, right-hander when he competed in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017. After he returned 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.
If Gray does indeed hit Triple-A early next year—and he succeeds in the hitter-friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League—his major league debut shouldn’t be too far away.