A’s Exec: Things Appear Brighter for A’s Prospect Sonny Gray
A’s 2011 first-round draftee and seventh-ranked prospect Sonny Gray is pitching in Arizona, but not in the Fall League for elite-level prospects of his ilk — rather, the Instructional League for prospects who, you know, need some instruction.
When Oakland selected Gray, a three-year vet at baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt, two Junes ago, it was thought that he would need to change little on his quick path to the Major Leagues.
One and a half seasons in the Minors later, that path seems to be windier than scouts first imagined. Here is how the 22-year-old righty fared in 2012 after his spectacular six-start, post-Draft showing in ’11:
6-9 W-L, 4.26 ERA, 99 K, 58 BB, .271 OPP AVG in 152 IP spanning 27 G at Double-A Midland (26) and Triple-A Sacramento (1)
So what has the already-pitching-rich Athletics pumped about Gray’s future despite those sub-par stats: 1) His 3.54 ERA after the All-Star break; 2) His six strong innings in Game 1 of the Pacific Coast League semifinal series; 3) And, lately, his commitment to getting better.
My source on all this: Longtime A’s player development director Keith Lieppman, who flew into Phoenix on Friday and took my call this morning, champing at the bit to talk about Gray: ”He didn’t have a great year, but he’s made some real, big strides in Instructional League. He is on the rise right now. There were a couple mechanical things to work out and, in so doing, put him in better position… A lot of times, competitors don’t want to make too many adjustments during the season, but this gives him an opportunity. The new delivery will benefit him next year… He’s on target with his direction [and] his foot-strike [to] keep him on line better. He tends to over-rotate, and that wasn’t good position for him to stay consistent.”