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