Josiah Gray Among Early Considerations for 2021 NL Rookie of Year

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(Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

Undeniably, of all the aspects of baseball that were absent in 2020, the orchestration of a minor league season—on any level of the farm—was perhaps the most missed of all.

Fortunately, many top prospects who otherwise might have been relegated to work out on their own were permitted to train with big leaguers at their respective teams’ alternate sites as part of the implementation of the 60-man player pool, a new concept that expanded upon the traditional MLB 40-man roster.

Nevertheless, despite there not being any minor league ball this year, it still did not stop some of the bigger outlets from publishing their annual reports ranking many of the best prospects in the game. Among those publications was a recent piece by Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Mike Rosenbaum of MLB.com that highlighted every team’s top 2021 Rookie of the Year candidate.

The selection for the Dodgers was 22-year-old righty pitcher Josiah Gray, who was recently elevated to the No. 1 prospect on the Los Angeles farm according to MLB Pipeline.

Gray was one of those players who was included in the 60-man player pool, allowing him to train throughout the season with the best players and coaches in the organization. Prior to the stoppage of spring training due to the coronavirus, the Brooklyn native made three Cactus League appearances, two of which were starts, tallying a total of five full innings of work.

For those who may have forgotten, Gray, alongside infielder Gavin Lux, was named by the Dodgers as one half of the Branch Rickey Minor League Players of the Year in 2019.

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 with 147 strikeouts against just 31 walks.

Gray started his 2019 campaign in the Midwest League, posting a 1.93 ERA in five starts before being promoted to Rancho. In 12 Cal League starts, he went a perfect 7-0 with a 2.14 ERA, 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 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 Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer shipped back to Cincinnati.

In 38 career minor league games (37 starts) over two seasons, Gray is 26-7 with a 2.37 ERA 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, particularly with regards to his big-league debut.

For as stacked as the Los Angeles rotation is, it’s tough seeing Gray contending for a spot in the front five right out of camp. However, depending on how front-office boss Andrew Friedman decides to build his bullpen, there might be a spot for Gray in relief before he buds into the fine starter that many pundits expect.

We’ve crazier things happen in the past—most recently with Dustin May solidifying himself on the roster after making an emergency spot start on Opening Day 2020.

13 thoughts on “Josiah Gray Among Early Considerations for 2021 NL Rookie of Year

  1. I agree Dennis. More likely Gray starts his MLB career as a reliever, even if he ultimately winds up in the rotation once Price is no longer here.

    I know that people like Callis often comment that he only has one plus pitch right now but they often fail to mention how short a time it’s been since he converted from shortstop. He’s a terrific athlete and I could definitely see him mastering two more pitches in the next couple of years.

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      1. “Some” is the key word there. I don’t expect we’ll see a full minor league season, but hopefully we’ll get something in. If all the guys in the minors were forced to miss a second consecutive year it would really screw with a lot of careers.

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  2. JoJo Gray another Bob Gibson in my eyes,He will be in the DODGERS starting rotation in 2023 and will resemble the great Bob Gibson bye 2024.

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  3. I really cannot wait to see this kid pitch come Spring. Mainly because I want to see what all the hype is about. But when the Dodgers bring a dynamic young arm to the team, it is always fun to watch. I felt the same way about Buehler. Looks like the Cubbies are throwing in the towel. According to MLBTR any player on their team, especially the vets, are available in trade. Baez figures to get some attention.

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    1. Looks like Theo may be burning the house down on his way out of town. His contract is up after 2021 and it’s common knowledge that he won’t be back.
      Theo or Andrew? Give me Andrew every time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to admit I am warming to AF a little. I guess when he blew things up the way he did and signed all of what I considered MLB flotsam, It was hard to take. But you just cannot overlook how the team has performed and looks like it will continue to do so. You know that he is going to surround his star player with the best talent available.

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      2. It’s one thing to feel that way in your head Bear but for goodness sake, don’t make those kind of comments online or people will know you’re just an old softy and not the gruff old bear you pretend to be. Keep up your image man!

        Liked by 1 person

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