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  • Twins MLB Draft Profile: Jonathan Gray, RHP

    Who IS This Guy?
    Jonathan Gray is a right-handed college starting pitcher who has rocketed up the charts, becoming one of the two most coveted picks in the draft. Coming into the college season he was a decent but not remarkable prospect, but that was before posting 127 strikeouts (in 110 IP), a 9-2 record and a 1.55 ERA (pre-NCAA tournament). It was also before he unveiled improvements on two outstanding pitches.

    The first is an “80” fastball that tops three digits on occasion, as it did last week (102 mph), striking out the last batter of a 129-pitch complete game in the NCAA regionals. Coming into the year, he had never shown that kind of velocity, but this year he worked between 94 and 97 all season.

    He also shows a “plus” slider that has also improved due to a tweak in the grip (running the middle finger down the right side of the horseshoe) that has increased the velocity and tightened the break. He has also shown a curveball and changeup, though both need to be further developed.

    Who Could He Be?

    He’s on track to be a #1 pitcher. But it’s been a short track.

    Gray might have the most upside of any pitcher in the draft, or at the very least the most of any of the college pitchers. Compared to the other top name, Mark Appel, Gray might have the higher ceiling but has less history on which to base that projection.

    How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?

    The path the Twins took with Matt Garza, another first round pick, albeit 25th overall, provides a clue. Garza was fast-tracked through the system due to his success and the state of the Twins starting rotation. The best guess is…

    2013 – Twins have him pitch in rookie league and maybe low A but are careful about piling much wear and tear on his arm (especially if his Oklahoma coach keeps throwing him out there for 129-pitch outings.)
    2014 – High A and maybe AA.
    2015 – AA or AAA with a possible late season call-up.

    If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up Because…

    The most obvious reasoning used to criticize this pick would be to say that they got carried away with a player whose value was built on one-year’s performance and improvement. But, provided he signs, it would be hard to legitimately criticize, even if he doesn’t make it to the majors for some unforeseen reason. Knowing what we know, he’s the complete package and fits an area of extreme need in the organization.

    If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It Because…

    Well, they probably got lucky, because for most of the last two months Gray wasn’t supposed to be available at #4. However, in Keith Law’s latest mock draft, he had Gray falling into their laps – and then the Twins passed on him for high school pitching prospect Kohl Stewart. Though the Twins are clearly enamored with Stewart, Gray has similar (if not more) upside without the risks associated of drafting a high school pitcher. Oh – and he’s likely to arrive in the majors sooner.

    More than any other player in the draft, Gray might be the perfect choice for the Twins.
    ---

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    This article was originally published in blog: Twins MLB Draft Profile: Jonathan Gray, RHP started by John Bonnes
    Comments 72 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I cannot think of a reason why this pick would fall under "the Twins messed up b/c". He's likely not going to be there at 4, and if by chance he is, we'd be silly not to take him.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I'd think that anyone second guessing this pick would have to be doing so from hindsight. I can't think of a reason, given what we know today, why you would not take him if he is there (other than Appel also being there, I guess).
    1. Gernzy's Avatar
      Gernzy -
      I really hope he falls to us at #4. And if he does we better take him...
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      No way the Twins pass on Gray if he falls to #4. I seriously doubt that happens. The Law Mock was some sort of idiosyncratic type of mock not based on any logic. The only possibility of Gray or Appel falling to the Twins is if somehow Stewart got in the mix with the top selection.

      As it is, I have long advocated a college arm with the #4, but after talking with my cousin who is a Texas A&M grad, he thinks the slotted bonus amount for #4 is enough to get Stewart signed. And, the fact that the Twins would be protected with a #5 pick next year helps mitigate any signability risk.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      the Law mock is based on coversations with front office personnel......and it is certainly possible that Houston tries what they tried last year.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      I cannot think of a reason why this pick would fall under "the Twins messed up b/c". He's likely not going to be there at 4, and if by chance he is, we'd be silly not to take him.
      While I agree I will play devil's advocate for fun.

      Do people know why Gray wasn't on many boards coming into the year even though he had possessed a mid+ 90's fastball since HS? He had a history of having a poor work ethic which led to poor results on the field. He was constantly out of shape which led to inconsistent mechanics. Can he keep up the effort to stay in shape? Can he develop a change up? Unlike Appel there just isn't a track record to know for sure.

      Ok, no more devils advocate. I love Gray and have him #1 on my board. I still don't believe he will fall to #4 but if he does I will be bouncing off the walls. Go Twins!
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I'd think that anyone second guessing this pick would have to be doing so from hindsight. I can't think of a reason, given what we know today, why you would not take him if he is there (other than Appel also being there, I guess).
      I can't imagine someone criticizing a draft pick or draft record out of hindsight.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I can't imagine someone criticizing a draft pick or draft record out of hindsight.
      I think the Twins should have kept Santana instead of trading him and picked Mike Trout and Tyler Skaggs with the two comp picks they would have gotten for him.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      From what I've read about Gray the question is whether he can develop a 3rd pitch. If he ends up just a high velocity bullpen arm, it's a bad pick. I would prefer Appel and Bryant to him so if he's there, we should obviously take him. But if the Twins took Stewart over him, I'd probably be ok with it b/c they (presumably) would feel that Stewart was more likely to become a true ace. If they took McGuire and saved money, I'd be pretty upset.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Apparently Gray tested positive for a banned stimulant at pre-draft testing. No suspension, but will face additional tests.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Apparently Gray tested positive for a banned stimulant at pre-draft testing. No suspension, but will face additional tests.
      Well, that'll knock him down a few lists, maybe even ours.

      http://espn.go.com/mlb/draft/2013/st...-test-adderall

      Adderall. Used for ADHD. Helps focus. Klaw doesn't think it'll hurt his draft stock.
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Apparently Gray tested positive for a banned stimulant at pre-draft testing. No suspension, but will face additional tests.
      That would have to easily scare Houston away from drafting him and I don't think they want anything to do with Appel after they wanted nothing to do with him and if he is #1 Boras will make sure he gets every penny he can squeeze out if him.
      I know we are talking about Gray here but you would have to think this will push Houston to taking Colin Moran, giving the Twins one of the top 3 studs.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Is it possible that Houston will be more likely to draft him?

      He must know that this could effect his slot. Would that make him more willing to take below slot money? Houston might be able to get him to accept a contract slotted for picks 4 or 5 and draft him number 1.
    1. Red Bull's Avatar
      Red Bull -
      Gray testing positive for Adderal could hurt the Twins. If Gray falls down draft boards including the Twins that could mean that one of the top 3 teams that would of picked Gray could move him down and instead take Stewart, and if the Twins dont like Gray anymore either it may mean that they would just take Mcguire because Bryant, Appel and Stewart are all gone.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Quote Originally Posted by Red Bull View Post
      Gray testing positive for Adderal could hurt the Twins. If Gray falls down draft boards including the Twins that could mean that one of the top 3 teams that would of picked Gray could move him down and instead take Stewart, and if the Twins dont like Gray anymore either it may mean that they would just take Mcguire because Bryant, Appel and Stewart are all gone.
      I follow you. I haven't heard of any of the top 3 teams connected to Stewart, so I have to think he,s ceiling is still 4. The Twins are big on character though, so I agree with you it is a possiblity the Twins pass on Gray at 4.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      A college student tested positive for Adderall? No ****.

      Anyway, if he falls to 4 and the Twins do not take him, I am going to go ballistic. Other than him at that spot (and assuming Stewart would be gone), I like Shipley or Ball.
    1. Red Bull's Avatar
      Red Bull -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      A college student tested positive for Adderall? No ****.

      Anyway, if he falls to 4 and the Twins do not take him, I am going to go ballistic. Other than him at that spot (and assuming Stewart would be gone), I like Shipley or Ball.
      I agree If they passed on Gray I would absolutely freak out. Assuming Stewart is gone too I like Shipley and Ball to but less Shipley. Hes could be a longer wait than Stewart even, he just recently became a pitcher and I heard he could take up to 5 years to develop.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      A college student tested positive for Adderall? No ****.
      .
      I mostly agree with you but ... 1) other students (Appel, Shipley) managed to do fine without it or were smart enough to know how not to get caught. 2) Coming into the year, Gray wasn't this good, as CMB mentioned. Did Adderall help him with his focus? If so, how would he do without it? Revert to the 3rd round arm he was last year?

      I don't necessarily think Gray is a bad pick and I'd be thrilled to have him but I think those are fair questions teams should be looking at.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Adderall, I imagine, is a significantly stronger, better performing stimulant than, say, the greenies players took in the 70s and 80s to gain an edge. I wouldn't dismiss the benefits such a drug would give players out on the mound, given how much focus, concentration, and mental endurance are part of a good pitcher's make up.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I'm not sure it adds focus. It's counterintuitive, but stimulants work on ADHD people a bit different than they do the rest of us. It allows them to concentrate where they could not proper... It just amps up everyone else. If it's a concentration thing, he's likely ADHD and can get a prescription for it.

      That said, the question I have is how many ticks can Adderall add to your fastball. If he suddenly cannot hit 100 MPH and can only hit say 96, is he the same prospect he was prior to this?
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