Josiah Gray’s Major League Debut Edging Closer

josiah_gray
(Photo credit: Oklahoma City Dodgers)

Although it remains unclear whether the Los Angeles Dodgers will make any significant player deals before this summer’s MLB trade deadline, the team might see an internal upgrade with the prospective debut of righty pitching prospect Josiah Gray.

No question, there’s been a ton of news surrounding the team since returning from the All-Star break. While some of the most circulated reports involve the current statuses of players like Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw, another development on Friday suggested there have been internal discussions about recalling the 23-year-old Gray.

In the early stages of the season, many fans weren’t sure if 2021 would be the year Gray would make his big-league debut, primarily because of all the starting pitching depth the team possessed. Those feelings changed with the arrival of the team’s streak of injuries, but it just so happened Gray was put on the shelf with a shoulder impingement right around the same time.

Pedigree

Since returning from the injured list on July 4, Gray has made three appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma City, tallying 12 punchouts over 10-2/3 innings of work. His latest appearance came in relief against Reno on Thursday when he threw 4-2/3 innings while surrendering three runs on five hits with seven punchouts.

While it seems like an eternity since the Dodgers acquired Gray and infielder Jeter Downs from the Reds for Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Kyle Farmer, and Alex Wood, it’s only been just shy of three years.

In 2020, Gray was among the 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. This year, he was a non-roster invitee to the major league side of spring training.

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.

Scouting Report

Gray was originally selected in the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cincinnati Reds out of Le Moyne College in New York, where he played shortstop for his first two seasons. Depending on where you look, he’s currently ranked anywhere in the Top 3 of all the Dodgers’ prospects.

According to MLB Pipeline, “Hitters have difficulty catching up to Gray’s 92-97 mph fastball, which seems to explode at the plate with riding and rising life. He sharpened both of his breaking balls at the alternate training site last year, tightening up and adding some power to his mid-80s slider while improving his feel for his upper-70s curveball. His changeup is more of a work in progress because he didn’t use it much in college.”

Without Kershaw and Trevor Bauer in the starting rotation, the Dodgers are down to just three legit starters in Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Tony Gonsolin, who still has not registered a quality start since his return from the injured list in early June. For all intents and purposes, David Price has slid into the rotation recently, but the veteran lefty’s longest outing of the year so far was an even three innings against the Diamondbacks in his last appearance on July 9.

Gray’s potential contributions might conceivably assist the starting rotation of the Dodgers, but he has yet to throw more than 70 pitches since returning from his shoulder injury, bringing up the question of how far in a game he can go.

In previous discussions, we’ve talked about the emergence of Ryan Pepiot and the possibility of him making a major league impact this season.

Neither Gray nor Pepiot are currently on the organization’s 40-man roster.

10 thoughts on “Josiah Gray’s Major League Debut Edging Closer

    1. In his debut? I’m going under. He still hasn’t thrown more than 68 pitches since returning from his shoulder injury. My guess is his ceiling’s at four innings, so long as he stays out of any major trouble.

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      1. So, are we talking Tuesday against the giants?

        Depends on his nerves. If he has confidence and throws strikes, he can get 4, unless of course he gets clobbered. We’ll see, but I anticipate some nibbling might occur and the blue won’t do him any favors. A borderline call with Posey up won’t be a strike. I would tell him “go get ‘em kid”. Throw strikes and sweat outcomes.

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  1. Maybe the answer is to use Gray in tandem with Price. Maybe between the two we could get 6-8 innings.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see AF add a starter this weekend (before the Giants series).
    If Scherzer is traded at all, it won’t be until the end of the month, but there are others out there that Andrew could deal for right now. Might still be a better option than Gray whom I don’t think is quite ready to throw against the Giants yet.

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  2. We all know Friedman is very aware of the problem that initially was a strength in the starting rotation. Friedman knows the extent of injury Kershaw, Nelson and Gonzalez are experiencing and their prognosis going forward. Friedman probably has a better idea of how the Bauer situation will unfold. Plaschke of the LA Times has stated the Dodgers should cut Bauer now and fight it out in court. It’s easy to take that stance with someone else’s money liability and possible conflict with the Players Union and MLB. Not to mention being sued by Bauer for possibly ruining his career depending on how this turns out.
    I comment a lot that the Dodgers should use their Farm System as they have invested in its structure and people more than probably any other club in baseball.
    I like the idea of using Gray, Pepiot, and others to at minimum wait to have a clearer idea of the injuries and the Bauer situation.
    Friedman and the Dodger Management Team are intelligent people I am sure this is the last time they sign or trade for a player with a dubious history.
    The Dodgers are experts at using the options system. As Seager is returning and Pujops has solidified right-handed-hitting off the bench I would begin to shuttle pitchers instead of position players to fill the starts and give the young pitchers some time to acclimate and see if they have what it takes. The Dodgers are only 2 games out there is plenty of time once Seager is back and the pitching situation becomes more clear.

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