Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keeping an Eye on Josiah Gray

josiah-gray
(MiLB.com photo)

While the concept of a 60-man player pool affords select prospects to participate in some form of baseball activity this year, it still doesn’t replace the level of competition a player would see on the high levels of the farm.

At some point of the season, it would not be surprising to see clubs around the majors promote their most prized prospects to their respective big league squads, if only to see how they stack up against the competition.

And, even though each victory will be absolutely meaningful in this shortened season, the Dodgers could be one of those clubs.

For those of you who remember the philosophies of former General Manager Ned Colletti, you’ll recall—especially towards the end of his time in the front office—that he much preferred veterans over prospects as far as 25-man roster spots went. Part of that philosophy was because team owner Frank McCourt was not providing the necessary resources to develop a thriving minor league system  (the talent was a bit minimal), but the flip side was that Colletti simply felt there was not a legit replacement for earned MLB experience and the fiery grit of a seasoned veteran.

This is perhaps the biggest difference between Colletti and current boss Andrew Friedman, who has certainly shown over recent years—see Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux and Dustin May—that he’s not afraid to take a chance on very young talent at the highest levels of the franchise.

One of the most prized pitching prospects in the organization is 22-year-old righty Josiah Gray. According to MLB Pipeline, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is currently ranked as the third-best prospect in the system (just behind Lux and May), and it will not be a shocker if we see him make his MLB debut at some point this year, especially in light of all the roster loopholes created by the pandemic.

Last season, Gray, alongside Lux, was named by the Dodgers as one half of the Branch Rickey Minor League Players of the Year.

In 26 games (25 starts) combined in 2019 between Low-A Great Lakes, High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, Gray finished with an 11-2 record, a 0.99 WHIP and a 2.28 ERA (33 ER/130.0 IP) with 147 strikeouts against just 31 walks.

The New York native started his 2019 campaign in the Midwest League, posting a 1.93 ERA (5 ER/23.1 IP) in five starts before being promoted to Rancho. In 12 Cal League starts, he went a perfect 7-0 with a 2.14 ERA (16 ER/67.1 IP), a 0.97 WHIP and a .209 opponents’ batting average, throwing many of his innings in the hitter-friendly confines of LoanMart Field. After earning a promotion to Tulsa on July 17, Gray pitched to a 2.75 ERA (12 ER/39.1 IP) across nine games (eight starts) for the Drillers.

Gray was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Le Moyne College in New York. He was acquired along with infielder Jeter Downs in a trade from the Reds on December 21, 2018 that saw Yasiel PuigMatt KempAlex Wood and Kyle Farmer shipped back to Cincinnati.

In 38 career minor league games (37 starts) over two seasons, the right-handed pitcher is 26-7 with a 2.37 ERA (48 ER/182.1 IP) and has struck out 206 batters against 48 walks.

As far as his repertoire goes, Gray’s bread and butter is his heater, which has some natural cutting action while sitting 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 somewhat raw. Presently, he’s being groomed as a starter, but based on the brilliance of his four-seamer, he could end up throwing in relief at some juncture of his career.

Without a doubt, Gray has one of the most talented arms in the organization—at least what he has shown of it thus far. Consequently, the upcoming season might just end up being a special one for him.

As crazy as this year was from a national, non-sports perspective, it might end up being even crazier in terms of a Major League Baseball season.

Keep an eye on those youngsters.

 

7 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: Keeping an Eye on Josiah Gray

  1. This shortened season is a win for the veterans not the young guys. When you don’t have time for the kids to go through growing pains on the field you have to play the guys that have been there before.

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  2. I’m treating this season, even if we manage to get the whole thing played, as basically an exhibition season for the entertainment of the fans. I’m expecting to see more players opt out and what we’ll wind up with won’t be baseball as we know it………………………..but it will be baseball and for that I’m grateful for as many games as we ultimately get.

    I don’t think Ned is given enough credit for what he accomplished here. Having to work with McCourt’s budget and personality was a lot to overcome.

    Gray has a tremendous amount of talent and we can’t forget that he came to pitching rather late. He should continue to improve with every season.

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      1. If I understood Doc’s comments, he made it sound like he was expecting to see both KJ and Pollock before too long. I’m guessing that Kenley’s absence is more likely a positive test rather than his deciding to opt out but that’s only a wild guess. If he doesn’t play I would think the next guys up would probably be Treinen or Ramos with the job going to the guy who seems to do best during the next 3 weeks. If that guy starts the year as closer and falters……………..next man up please. Graterol, Kelly and Gonsolin could also be possibilities but probably not at the top of the list.

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      2. I think Petey Baez might be higher than Treinen. Definitely higher than Ramos. Roberts definitely trusts Baez. I guess it all depends how they are looking for the opener, though.

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      3. I think Doc definitely has lots of confidence in Baez but I don’t think he has confidence in him as a closer. I’m guessing he much prefers to use him in any inning other than the 9th. I’ll ask him when I see him. What that? No I’ve never met or spoken to Dave so we may have to wait awhile for an answer.

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