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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. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      All I'm saying is that in my view, the bigger conclusion to draw when an athlete tests positive for a psychoactive like Adderall, as opposed to testosterone or HGH, is not just that you might have a cheater on your hands, its that you might also be looking at an addict.

      Guys can work around a 50 game suspension. An addiction, maybe not.
      That may in fact be a more dangerous conclusion, but in no way does a lack of studies confirming its use deny the potential positives on performance which I would argue was your actual point I'm refuting.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      So 50+ years of MLB players taking stimulants because they believe it improves their games, is all about addiction, and not what they've all said which is that it is about using PEDs?
      Right, this wasn't about addiction. Or are we to believe that when MLB cracked down on stimulants nearly the whole league quit cold turkey with hardly any instances of relapse or the need for medically assisted withdrawl?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      That may in fact be a more dangerous conclusion, but in no way does a lack of studies confirming its use deny the potential positives on performance which I would argue was your actual point I'm refuting.
      Its tough to calculate Gray's true talent if the only evidence we have that stimulants actually improve performance -anecdotes from athletes, is invalid. A possiblity that nobody seems to consider. "But it helps me" could just as easily be rationalizing, as addicts are sometimes wont to do.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Its tough to calculate Gray's true talent if the only evidence we have that stimulants actually improve performance -anecdotes from athletes, is invalid. A possiblity that nobody seems to consider. "But it helps me" could just as easily be rationalizing, as addicts are sometimes wont to do.
      I would argue its not, in fact, just as easy to assume that everybody is a drug addict. That is such a ridiculous leap.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Well there was a period of time around 2005 where I may have taken adderall as a recreational drug. May have done so. And it may be the case that I am surprised he is striking so many guys out instead of running up and hugging them and jabbering about how great the world is. It is flabbergasting that kids are given this.

      I can't imagine it being a great athletic performance enhancer though. Unless you call drinking a lot an athletic performance.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      I'm actually more surprised by Keith Law's article with the "one-time indiscretion" remarks.

      That's completely laughable to me, but it appears MLB teams actually buy that BS, or they don't care...
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I would argue its not, in fact, just as easy to assume that everybody is a drug addict. That is such a ridiculous leap.
      You deny there's a relationship between thrill seeking and addiction?
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Stimulants do improve performance, whether it be in recovery time or limited durability in games. I'm surprised this is being debated. As I said earlier, adderall will not help you "concentrate" unless you already have ADHD. As a stimulant though, it has other benefits, and let's not pretend it doesn't work. They woudln't be banning it from the NFL if it didn't. While I've personally never used it, there is plenty more than anecdotal evidence that stimulants improve performance. Speed and PCP are really good examples of drugs that can give you a temporary boost.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      You deny there's a relationship between thrill seeking and addiction?
      No, I deny rushing to the conclusion he is a drug addict for using a substance players across eras and sports are/have been using as a performance enhancer is reasonable.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      It literally could have been used once to go out and party (which is dangerous because one doesn't feel getting drunker and drunker). Now the big a-word is being bandied about?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      No, I deny rushing to the conclusion he is a drug addict for using a substance players across eras and sports are/have been using as a performance enhancer is reasonable.
      That is the reason. The link between thrill seeking and addiction. Either you deny that link, or you deny that athletes in general tend to be thrill seekers. You need to do one or the other, otherwise all the years of testimony from this bloc of drug users about how they are benefiting from the drugs is invalid.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      I feel there is a lot of over-reaction about this.
    1. TwinsFanInPhilly's Avatar
      TwinsFanInPhilly -
      Today all the quant PhD's are Pharmacology PhD's - it's why I love this place
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      That is the reason. The link between thrill seeking and addiction. Either you deny that link, or you deny that athletes in general tend to be thrill seekers. You need to do one or the other, otherwise all the years of testimony from this bloc of drug users about how they are benefiting from the drugs is invalid.
      Wow. Just....wow. I concede, clearly the accusation that most athletes are addicts stands on irrefutable logic.

      Wow.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      It literally could have been used once to go out and party
      You actually believe that would be the case?! Get out from under your rock...! q; )
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      That is the reason. The link between thrill seeking and addiction. Either you deny that link, or you deny that athletes in general tend to be thrill seekers. You need to do one or the other, otherwise all the years of testimony from this bloc of drug users about how they are benefiting from the drugs is invalid.
      Athletes = Thrill Seekeres = Addicts?

      How about the more likely:

      Professional athletes = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ = cheating
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      1 in 10 baseball players is has a meth prescription. Which means maybe 1 in 5 ballplayers is using since you can get your psychiatrist to up your doseage by simply saying "its not having much of an effect" and then share/sell the extra to your friends.

      Say "meth" or "crank" instead of Adderall, because that's the street name for the same drug. Then does it sound more likely that we might be talking about addiction here? What we do know is that meth is highly addictive, and we're dealing with a very selective sample of the population, one that probably is at some elavated risk of addiction. What we don't know, is that using the drug is in any way beneficial to players, aside from their own testimony. But maybe the reason MLB banned beanies was because coaches and umpires got sick of dealing with strung out players all the time?
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      Stimulants do improve performance, whether it be in recovery time or limited durability in games. I'm surprised this is being debated. As I said earlier, adderall will not help you "concentrate" unless you already have ADHD. As a stimulant though, it has other benefits, and let's not pretend it doesn't work. They woudln't be banning it from the NFL if it didn't. While I've personally never used it, there is plenty more than anecdotal evidence that stimulants improve performance. Speed and PCP are really good examples of drugs that can give you a temporary boost.
      Stimulants do improve athletic performance; there is ample evidence for this. Back when I was a swimmer (Pac-10 college), we were routinely drug tested for stimulants, including methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine. Regardless of prescription, they are illegal in top-level swimming. Most of the guys I swam with (and I) just got all hopped up on coffee instead.

      That said, an endurance/aerobic sport like swimming is fundamentally different from pitching. Certainly it's useful if you get tired after 110 pitches instead of 90 pitches, but while swimming is a game of hundredths of seconds, pitching is a game of hundredths of inches. Command, control, placement, whatever you want to call it, it's more important than aerobic endurance.

      I actually wonder what kind of advantage a pitcher would get out of it. I'm not sure it'd be much. And while I don't think it beyond the pale to think a pitcher would take it for performance reasons, I'm not ready to draw any conclusions about Gray's use, or even to conclude that it hurts his draft stock.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      1 in 10 baseball players is has a meth prescription. Which means maybe 1 in 5 ballplayers is using since you can get your psychiatrist to up your doseage by simply saying "its not having much of an effect" and then share/sell the extra to your friends.

      Say "meth" or "crank" instead of Adderall, because that's the street name for the same drug. Then does it sound more likely that we might be talking about addiction here? What we do know is that meth is highly addictive, and we're dealing with a very selective sample of the population, one that probably is at some elavated risk of addiction. What we don't know, is that using the drug is in any way beneficial to players, aside from their own testimony. But maybe the reason MLB banned beanies was because coaches and umpires got sick of dealing with strung out players all the time?
      You realize by this same ridiculous logic one could call coffee drinkers "meth heads"?

      Is this some kind of hilarious attempt at the utter destruction of your own credibility? If so, you sir are doing a mighty fine job. With each subsequent post in your "all athletes are meth addicts" rant, I know I am taking you less seriously.

      In all seriousness, we are talking about some kid and his future and you are taking the discovery of a one time use of a prescribed stimulant and positing him a drug addict. That's just.....wow.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by 70charger View Post
      Stimulants do improve athletic performance; there is ample evidence for this. Back when I was a swimmer (Pac-10 college), we were routinely drug tested for stimulants, including methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine. Regardless of prescription, they are illegal in top-level swimming. Most of the guys I swam with (and I) just got all hopped up on coffee instead.
      Can I ask specifically what benefit do you get from stimulants in swimming?
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