Sonny Gray Rumors
The A's announced that they have agreed to sign first round draft pick Sonny Gray. The A's selected the right-hander 18th overall after he posted a 2.12 ERA wtih a 124K/46BB ratio in 119 innings for a Vanderbilt club that advanced to the final four at the College World Series.
Gray signed for a $1.54MM bonus, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). MLB's recommended bonus for the 18th overall pick was $1.422MM a year ago, according to Baseball America.
I spoke to Gray about his season and his repertoire back in February. Earlier today, ESPN.com's Keith Law and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the sides were making progress.
5:26pm: Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that the A's are close to a deal with Gray (Twitter link).
The A's drafted Gray 18th overall out of Vanderbilt last month. Slot for the pick is around $1.4MM, though Kaleb Cowart signed for $2.3MM as the 18th pick last year.
Keith Law of ESPN.com has written up his final projections for tonight's draft. Here are some of the latest highlights (Insider subscription needed):
- The D'Backs select UCLA righty Trevor Bauer with the No. 3 pick, meaning two of the first three picks will be Bruins after the Pirates take Gerrit Cole at No. 1 overall.
- The Orioles, turned off by Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen's hefty contract demands, take prep righty Archie Bradley out of Oklahoma at No. 4. Dylan Bundy then falls to the Royals at No. 5, which Law says would be a steal, and Hultzen slides back to the D'Backs at No. 7, a "dream scenario" for Arizona. That could lead to tricky negotiations considering Hultzen's demands and the fact that the pick is unprotected after Barret Loux didn't sign last year, but Bauer and Hultzen would represent quite a boon to the D'Backs' rotation in the near future.
- The Mets meet their organizational mandate to take a pitcher at No. 13, selecting UConn righty Matt Barnes.
- The Brewers, with an unprotected pick at No. 15, need to take a signable player, and may be looking at Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray or Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson.
- The Red Sox probably won't spend too wildly at No. 19 and could focus on a high-probability player like Alex Meyer of Kentucky as they did a year ago with Kolbrin Vitek.
Earlier today we learned that the Pirates plan to select Gerrit Cole with the number one overall pick in Monday's amateur draft, the first of over 1,500 players that will hear their names called next week. We'll keep track of draft news thoughout the day right here, with the latest up top...
- The Rays are ready to cash in on their glut of draft picks, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Tampa Bay is the first team to have twelve of the top 100 selections in a draft.
- The Astros are trying to reach a pre-draft deal with Stanford lefty Chris Reed for the 11th overall pick according Frankie Piliere of FOX Sports (on Twitter), though they are denying that is the case (also via Twitter). Baseball America ranked Reed as the 60th best prospect in the draft on their top 200 list.
- ESPN's Keith Law is hearing "quite a bit" about the Indians being connected to Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray with the eighth overall pick (Twitter link). Click here to see Ben Nicholson-Smith's Q&A with Gray.
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic hears that the Diamondbacks may be willing to take a player with large bonus demands with the seventh overall pick. That pick is compensation for failing to sign Barret Loux last year and is unprotected, so they won't get another pick if they don't sign the player. For that reason, it's been speculated that they would take a player they know they can sign.
- Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun puts a spotlight on high school righty Dylan Bundy, who is in the mix to be selected by the Orioles, number four overall. Jim Callis of Baseball America has Bundy going to the D'Backs and Danny Hultzen going to O's on his latest draft board (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox have a unique opportunity on their hands in owning four of the top 40 picks in the draft, writes Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. Boston had five of the first 47 picks in 2005, selecting Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden and Craig Hansen. Pretty nice haul there.
- The Rangers are showing strong interest in prep outfielder Brandon Nimmo from Wyoming with the 33rd overall pick, according to Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com (via Twitter). Nimmo has committed to attend Arkansas.
In a draft considered by experts to be deep in pitching, six college right-handers possess the talent to rank within the top 20 overall for ESPN's Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein, and Baseball America.
Gerrit Cole, UCLA
Law has Cole going first overall to the Pirates in his most recent mock draft, while Baseball America has him falling to the Royals at #5. Getting Cole is the "dream scenario" for the Royals at #5, according to Law. Cole, who was drafted out of high school by the Yankees in '08, boasts a mid-90s fastball, power slider, and above-average changeup. Experts agree he has the ceiling of a number one starter, and Law says Cole "looks like he could pitch in the big leagues tomorrow if he'd sign soon enough to play." He has, however, struggled with his command at times and hasn't delivered results on par with his abilities. Cole is advised by the Boras Corporation. He has been stingy on providing interviews, but MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith spoke to him in March.
Trevor Bauer, UCLA
Law believes the Diamondbacks could consider Bauer at #3 if Danny Hultzen is gone, but projects him going to the Nationals at #6. Law does not expect Bauer to make it past the Indians at #8. BA went with the Nats in their mock draft. Bauer has been worked heavily and has unorthodox workouts and mechanics. He's said by BA to pattern himself after Tim Lincecum. Bauer comes with lots of strikeouts, good velocity, a plus-plus curveball, an above-average changeup, and a few other pitches too. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo spoke to him a few days ago.
Taylor Jungmann, Texas
Law projects the Brewers taking Jungmann at #12, with the Mets an option at #13. BA guesses the Astros will take him at #11. Law says the 6'6" Jungmann sits at 91-93 with a hammer curveball and strong command. A few mild concerns have been raised about his delivery, and Goldstein questions whether he has "star-level upside."
Matt Barnes, Connecticut
Law notes that the Padres have interest at #10, which is BA's choice in their mock draft. Barnes draws praise for his fastball and curveball, while questions remain about his command, mechanics, and secondary stuff.
Alex Meyer, Kentucky
Law names the Athletics at #18, the Red Sox at #19, and the Nationals at #23 as possibilities for Meyer, while BA takes the Angels at #17. The 6'9" righty owns a mid-90s fastball and plus-plus slider, but Goldstein finds his performance inconsistent and all gurus say his command is lacking. There is number one starter upside here, says Law. Meyer, who turned down $2MM from the Red Sox as a 20th round pick out of high school three years ago, is advised by the Boras Corporation.
Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt
Gray could be Arizona's choice at their unprotected #7 spot, says Law, while the Padres could be a fit at #10. He's mentioned the Cubs at #9 previously. BA went with the Brewers at #15. Gray is 5'11", but he pitches at 91-94 with what Law describes as a "knockout breaking ball." The idea has been floated that Gray could end up a late-inning reliever. Talking to Ben Nicholson-Smith in February, Gray said he prefers to start but considers himself versatile and enjoyed his time in the bullpen.
- The Pirates announced that they signed five amateur free agents: Nicaraguan right-hander Adolfo Flores, Dominican right-hander Juan Mendoza, Panamanian position player Edgar Munoz and Venezuelan outfielders Anthony Claudio and Keybel Escobar. Claudio "resembles a young Magglio Ordonez," according to Pirates Latin America scouting director Rene Gayo.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today says Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder could get a $200MM deal in free agency if he keeps hitting like this (Twitter link). Fielder leads the NL with 41 RBI and has a .285/.380/.548 line 216 plate appearances into the season.
- There's only a slim chance that high school right-hander Dylan Bundy will be available when the Cubs select ninth overall in next month's draft, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). If Bundy and high school outfielder Bubba Starling have already been selected, Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray could be an option for the Cubs.
The buzz about the MLB draft is intensifying and understandably so - the big day is less than two weeks away. Here’s the latest:
- Baseball America presents its top 200 draft prospects. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is first on the list and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy leapfrogged UCLA righty Gerrit Cole to take the second spot on BA’s list.
- Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranks his top 100 draft-eligible players. Cole (#1), Rendon (#2) and high school outfielder Bubba Starling (#3) top his list and Bundy comes in fourth.
- Two UConn Huskies, Matt Barnes and George Springer, are gaining momentum, according to Jason A. Churchill of ESPN.com. Cole, however, is losing momentum.
- In his latest chat, Jim Callis of Baseball America says he thinks Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray can start or become a dynamic closer.
- Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com previews this year's draft-eligible middle infielders, starting with high schooler Francisco Lindor, an outstanding defender who can hit for average and some power.
- University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong told Mayo that he doesn't mind at all when people doubt him because of his size (he's 5'9"). Wong says he has spoken to fellow Hawaiian Shane Victorino about dealing with the draft.
- White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that the White Sox should get some "pretty good players" even though their first pick is the 47th overall selection. Chicago could end up taking a position player this year, according to Laumann.
A year ago, the Nationals had already decided to select Bryce Harper first overall. If the Pirates have decided on this year's top selection, we haven't heard about it, but we can pass along these updates about the 2011 draft:
- An American League scouting director told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he believes in Sonny Gray's ability to pitch well when it matters. "If you need to win a game," the scouting director said, "you want Sonny Gray pitching for you. He's that kind of guy."
- As Jonathan Mayo shows at MLB.com, relatives of well-known sports figures like Dante Bichette, Scott Boras and Wayne Gretzky are eligible for this year's draft.
- Anthony Rendon headlines Mayo's list of top corner infield prospects at MLB.com. Rendon has four plus tools and can run better than people give him credit for, according to Mayo. However, the third baseman has dealt with two injuries this year.
- As Mayo explains at MLB.com, the Cron family features a pair of prospects: Utah first baseman C.J. Cron and high school catcher Kevin Cron. Their father, Chris, made it to the Major Leagues with the 1991 Angels and the 1992 White Sox.
- Peter Gammons of MLB Network suggests the Mets may well select UNC shortstop Levo Michael with the 13th overall pick (Twitter link).
It's far too early in the spring for teams to have their draft boards finalized, as Keith Law pointed out at ESPN.com this week. With nearly two months remaining between now and the draft, a lot can change, but that doesn't stop Law from passing along the latest on the early intentions of some teams with high picks:
- Law hears that the Mariners will take either Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon with the second pick in the draft, depending on which player is available after the Pirates select first overall.
- The D'Backs, who pick third, covet Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, according to Law.
- The Orioles are 'extremely likely' to take a college pitcher with the fourth overall pick. They could take Hultzen or Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley.
- The Royals (5th pick) are also likely to take a college arn and they're interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes, Hultzen and Bradley.
- The D'Backs (7th pick) and Cubs (9th pick) have Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray high on their internal rankings, according to Law.
As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series debuts today with one of the top college pitchers in the nation.
Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray has "the best curveball in college baseball," according to Baseball America, and ESPN.com's Keith Law suggested last week that he has an outside shot of being the first overall pick this June. According to Baseball America, some scouts wonder if Gray's future is in the bullpen. But with an above-average curve, a 93-96 mph fastball and a change-up, he could become a starter like Mike Minor and David Price, two Vanderbilt products who were selected in the first round.
Gray talked to MLBTR about his size, his curveball and Roy Halladay. Here's a transcript of our conversation:
Ben Nicholson-Smith - Can you describe your pitches and what kind of pitcher you are?
Sonny Gray - I’m a guy that has a pretty good fastball and I like to use it a lot. I also rely on my curveball quite a bit. It’s been a pitch that I’ve been able to go to for a while - ever since I can remember pitching. I like to throw mainly a lot of fastballs and curveballs and I’d say between fastball and curve that’s probably 85% of the pitches I throw.
Varying speeds on my curveball of course, so some are a few miles an hour harder, which can make a difference, and I mix in change-ups. I kind of like to just go after the hitter and just throw my stuff against their bat and see what I can get out of it.
BNS - It sounds like you’re pretty comfortable with your curveball at this point.
SG - Yeah, I’ve always been pretty confident in it. It’s always been something I can use and it’s always worked pretty well. If I need to make a big pitch, I’ll go to either that or my fastball, but I’m pretty confident in [the curve].
I’m really confident in my fastball as well and I’m gaining confidence in the change-up. This year I’m going to end up throwing it a lot more and I threw it quite a bit this summer, so I’ve just got to gain more confidence in that pitch and I’m starting to get that, since I’m starting to have success with it.
BNS - Is that one of your goals for the season? To keep working the change-up into the repertoire?
SG - It’s not one of my goals. My goal is to get outs and win games. If it’s throwing a change-up that certain night, then I’ll throw a change-up. If it’s not throwing any, I won’t throw any. If it’s mixing everything, I’ll mix everything. It’s just the way the flow of the game goes.
I don’t think that’s a goal - ‘today I’ve got to make sure I throw a change-up.’ I don’t really look at it that way. It’s just whatever I need for each particular outing.
BNS - Tell me about how you’ve changed or evolved as a pitcher since the Cubs took you back in [the 27th round in] ’08.
SG - I’ve changed a lot actually. I still go with the fastballs and curveballs, but I’ve added I think 25 or 30 pounds. Back then I was 5’11” and 170 or 175 [pounds] and now I’m right at 200.
I’ve learned how to pitch a lot more. In high school you can kind of throw it by people, but here you have to learn how to throw the ball to both sides of the plate - which is important - and I’ve learned a lot about the game. I’ve learned how to pitch, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’m able to correct things now if something’s not going well, I can correct things in the moment which was something I wasn’t able to do then. Back then I’d try to rear back and throw as hard as I could if something wasn’t going right, but now I know why stuff happens and I’m able to correct if from one pitch to the next.
BNS - You said that throwing change-ups is not one of your goals, but what goals would you say that you do have for the rest of the college season?
SG - The goal is just to get out there and give the team a chance to win every game. There’s going to be outings when I’m really good, when my stuff’s real good and there’s also going to be outings like last Friday when my stuff’s not quite there and the offense is going to have to pick me up [Gray pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and four hits and striking out six against the University of San Diego on Friday]. But to be able to give the team a chance to win every Friday night I go out there is one of my main goals.
BNS - Do you watch a lot of big league baseball? Are you a big baseball fan in general?
SG - Yeah, I am actually.
BNS - What major leaguers do you look up to?
SG - Roy Halladay does things the right way. His team follows around him; he knows how to come into a new place and maintain his work ethic.
Also the guys coming out from Vandy, guys that I’m pretty close with. I check to see how David [Price] does every time he pitches. We’ve developed a little bit of a relationship, coming from Vandy. So I look up to him and his success as well.
SG - It does. Just to be able to see what they’ve done and try to build on that. To think what they’ve been able to accomplish and by doing it the right way. Especially coming here - the program has high expectations and I think that they kind of brought this program to a new level that hadn’t been pushed before.
And me being here I’m just trying to get to the next level that they weren’t able to make it to. And I’m going to leave it to the guys that come behind us. But we want to push the program far - to where it hasn’t been [a College World Series championship].
BNS - When you look ahead, say, five years from now, do you see yourself as a starter or do you see yourself as a reliever?
SG - I’ve always thought of myself as a starter. Some people say 'he’s shorter,' but I’ve seen myself as a starter. I closed my freshman year here at Vanderbilt and it was the first time I’d ever been out of the bullpen and it was actually an enjoyable time, I actually had a lot of fun with it.
It was a new role I hadn’t played before but once I got used to it it was something I enjoyed doing. I looked forward to throwing more than once in a week. So I’ve always seen myself as a starter, but if anything were to happen, I’m versatile, I’m not someone who’s just stuck on something and doesn’t want to try to experiment or do whatever needs to be done.
BNS - What about all of this interest in the draft? You have people like me calling, you have Baseball America writing about you, you’re on ESPN. How much of that stuff is exciting and really cool and how much of that is a distraction?
SG - I think it’s very exciting. It’s nice to receive recognition for the hard work you’ve put in from way before college, growing up playing the game. It’s nice to receive some kind of recognition, but then again you kind of have to take a step back and take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture. And for me right now the bigger picture is next Friday night and the next Friday after that. It’s just this season and this team, putting this team in position to win and stuff off the field can come off the field. It is nice to receive that stuff, but you have to take it with a grain of salt and just do what you can do.