Cincinnati Reds #12 Prospect: Josiah Gray Doug Gray November 27, 2018 20 Comments In 2017 at Le Moyne College Josiah Gray threw 14.1 innings out of the bullpen while playing shortstop. He would spend the summer pitching in the Cape Cod League where he threw another 14.2 innings and established himself as a prospect to follow the next year. In 2018, now a starting pitcher, Gray took control of his fate and dominated, throwing 93.1 innings with a 1.25 ERA, 20 walks, and he struck out 105 batters. That led the Cincinnati Reds to select him 72nd overall in the draft with their 2nd Round Comp B selection. The Reds sent Josiah Gray to join their new affiliate in the Appalachian League. His first start with the Greeneville Reds saw him throw 3.0 perfect innings and strike out five batters. The next time out didn’t go as well as he allowed three earned in 3.0 innings with a walk and a strikeout. That wrapped up June since the season didn’t begin until June 19th. July got out to a great start for Josiah Gray, and you can see that in the video above. He threw 5.0 hitless innings against Johnson City on the 3rd, allowing just one walk and striking out five batters while needing just 61 total pitches. The next time out he allowed a run over 5.2 innings with a walk and five strikeouts against Burlington. Bristol got to the right hander on the 15th, touching him up for five earned runs in 3.2 innings. The 20-year-old rebounded well in his next two starts to finish out the month. He tossed 10.2 combined innings with just one earned run and he had 12 strikeouts. For the month he posted a 2.52 ERA in 25.0 innings, allowed just 14 hits, walked seven batters, and he struck out 26. On August 3rd, Josiah Gray would allow his only home run of the season. He allowed two earned in 4.0 innings against Johnson City to go with a walk and four strikeouts. In his next start he was charged with an unearned run in 4.0 hitless innings with three walks and seven strikeouts. On August 16th and 21st he allowed just one hit, and one run in each of his starts against Danville and Elizabethton. On the 27th his season would come to an end in his final start of the year against Princeton. He allowed one run over 3.0 innings with a walk and four strikeouts. In five August starts he posted a 2.11 ERA in 21.1 innings with just 10 hits allowed, walked nine batters, and he struck out 27 batters. For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason). Josiah Gray Scouting Report Fastball | His best pitch right now, it works in the low-to-mid 90’s, and has touched as high as 98 MPH. The pitch has good movement, more on the vertical plane than the horizontal plane. Slider | The slider has a chance to be Josiah Gray’s best pitch. It’s inconsistent, but when it’s at it’s best it’s a plus offering that works in the low-to-mid 80’s. Change Up | The pitch is a bit firm, and one he doesn’t go to as often as the slider. It’s a below-average offering right now, but could be an average offering in the future. Josiah Gray may have come out of college as a starting pitcher, but given his history, he’s probably more like a high school pitcher than a college one when it comes to his development and experience. He threw 145.1 innings this year between college and professional baseball. That’s an enormous increase from the sub 30.0 innings he threw in 2017. The things you like with Josiah Gray are easily seen. He’s very athletic on the mound and has a fast arm. He’s capable of locating his fastball in the strikezone quite well and the pitch has some movement and velocity. The slider shows itself often as an above-average offering, too. And of course, there are the numbers. Gray dominated everywhere in 2018 – both in college and in the Appalachian League. On the flip side there are some things to keep an eye on. While the raw abilities are there, the consistency with the secondary offerings is going to need to improve as he moves up the ladder. The change up has some scouts believing that he’ll eventually wind up in the bullpen where the fastball and slider will play up. The improvements that have been made since becoming a full time pitcher by Josiah Gray have been impressive. That he’s already capable of dominating even the lower levels of minor league baseball says a lot about his abilities. The change up will be key to his development in the long run, but he’s got the athleticism and arm speed that you want to see from someone who is going to have to make that happen. Interesting Stat on Josiah Gray In five road starts he held batters to a .076/.187/.089 line over a span of 91 plate appearances. He allowed just one extra-base hit on the road – a double against Burlington on July 9th. 20 Responses Billy November 27, 2018 I’d look it up, but I’m lazy… With a below average change, I’d expect him to struggle against opposite handed hitters. What do his splits look like? Michael Smith November 27, 2018 509 ops vs 405 vs righties. Walk rate jumped, k rate stayed pretty close. https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=gray–004jos&type=pgl&year=2018 Wes November 27, 2018 I prefer prospects who actually put up good numbers vs a guy like Robert Stevenson who’s always had the hype but his stats suck. I like Gray a lot. He seems durable with a good reason to think he’ll improve. He’s my breakout candidate in reds system. Putting my name on it Colorado Red November 27, 2018 take there time on this kid. I think he has a lot of potential, but it may take a little time to develop the secondary pitches. That being said, I totally agree with you Wes. Jonathan November 27, 2018 Really Robert Stephenson has always sucked? You may want to double check his numbers again buddy… Stock November 27, 2018 Stephenson was pretty good in A ball in 2013 but sucked after his promotion to AA. He has never had his BB/9 < 3.00 in any season since then. His lack of command will kill him in the majors. So Wes was mostly right. Outside of his 18 starts in A ball in 2013 Stephenson has been hype over performance. Big Ed November 27, 2018 Looking back at Stephenson’s MILB career, you can make a case that the Reds rushed him in his age 20 year (2013), going from Dayton to Bakersfield to Pensacola. He was excellent at Dayton, very good at Bakersfield, and only so-so at Pensacola, where his walk rate soared. He had walked 2 in 20.2 IP at Bakersfield, but 13 in 16.2 IP at Pensacola. Stephenson has had control issues ever since. He walked 4.9/9 IP in 2014 at Pensacola, and never got it below 4.4/9 IP again, except over 40 IP in Louisville in 2017, when it was 2.9. I don’t know how comparable these two guys are. They have different body types, plus RS was a first-round high school pitcher out of California, whereas Gray is a converted shortstop from the northeast. Stephenson’s case shows me that pitchers ought not be rushed at any level. wes November 27, 2018 Robert Stevenson, a former top 30 prospect, has under achieved every season since 2013. How are you gonna plug that guy?? Doug you always say AA makes or breaks a guy and ever since AA he’s underachieved every season. Do Reds fans and Bobsteve both a favor and let him go. And yes, pitching in AAA last season was an underachievement when you were suppose to be the man two seasons ago. I’ll take guys like Mahle/Gray who put up at every level even though they may not have elite stuff; those type of players seem to have a higher probability of sicking vs guys like Bobsteve. Reds could use a slew of back end rotation guys since they seemingly have none. You have to reshape the loosing mentality and no better way than with fresh faces. Doug Gray November 27, 2018 And yet, he’s gone through stretches of absolute dominance in both Double-A and Triple-A, which is why you don’t just “let him go”. That would be dumb. Doug Gray November 27, 2018 Wes, you might want to go back and take a look at what Stephenson did in Low-A and Advanced-A. That’s when he was at his best, it’s when his stuff was the best, it’s when his control was the best. After that he would have periods of dominance, but never returned to that version. Don’t get confused though, he was a different pitcher then – he could paint the corners with his fastball back then. Something changed. MK November 27, 2018 Higher you go the more refined the hitters knowledge of the strike zone. Doug Gray November 27, 2018 You’re not wrong, MK, but Stephenson’s control didn’t crap the bed because of the hitters changing. It crapped the bed because he can’t throw his fastball over the plate to save his life anymore. Norwood Nate November 27, 2018 Yeah that 2.87 ERA and 135 K’s in 113 IP in AAA sure sucked last season. Yeah he has had his issues with walks, but it’s not like his production suffered at the AAA level because of it. Some people just like to hate I guess. Stock November 27, 2018 Wes, I agree that Gray is a breakout candidate. However, the best pitcher in Greeneville last summer (my opinion) was Alexis Diaz. I know Gray had a better ERA and better WHIP. But Diaz was unlucky from my perspective (.326 BABIP and 78.6% LOB%). I am looking forward to seeing the progress both make in 2019. Hopefully Diaz finishes the season in Daytona. I am hoping both crack Doug’s top 10 by year end 2019. Big Ed November 27, 2018 I bought Derek Johnson’s “The Complete Guide to Pitching,” and have gotten through at least the initial part of it. Johnson likes athleticism in pitchers, trying to mesh some fundamentals with the pitcher’s natural athletic abilities. Gray throws a bit across his body, which appears to be caused (from my reading of Johnson’s book) when he takes his left (or lift leg) behind his right side. That creates some unnecessary spin in the delivery, making it difficult for his body to catch up and get the proper alignment at the point of release. Johnson teaches his pitchers just to lift the leg, with the idea that it will help keep the body aligned straight to the plate. Gray is very athletic and natural, so he ought to eat up what Johnson and his staff will teach. This was a great pick by the Reds, taking a very good athlete in the baseball hinterlands. The first part of Johnson’s book reminds me a lot of the great Ben Hogan book, “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” Hogan emphasizes grip, stance and alignment, from which all else flows. Pitching is not a whole lot different. AirborneJayJay November 27, 2018 I really like Josiah Gray a lot. I had him in the top-10 Reds prospects, ahead of Vlad Gutierrrez. I hope he has similar success as Tony Santillan and follows a similar trajectory. The Braves had to DFA a LH reliever today for yesterday’s signing of 3B Josh Donaldson. Adam McCreery is LH, 25, 6’9″ and 250. He doesn’t have a big arm with all that size, but he limits HR’s at an amazing rate. He has only given up 2 HR in his pro career. He has advanced rather quickly through the minors. He does have BB issues though. He has advanced to AAA and is ready, or almost ready, for the big leagues. Somebody will snatch him up quickly, might as well be the Reds who are short handed on LH relievers. The Marlins and the Padres have a shot before the Reds do as they are the only NL teams ahead of the Reds. Colorado Red November 27, 2018 Would you want to use the last 40 man spot on him? , Else who would you DFA. With the rule 5 draft coming up, would you select him. Would you then DFA him, and hope he passes. Just a few thoughts. MK November 27, 2018 Gray looks like a drop and drive type pitcher. To be successful this way the fastball has to be over powering with great movement. Right now his pitches are coming in on the hitters plane. Those guys who are successful are rare rare like Tom Seaver. I would love to see him stand a little more upright and get off that plane. His current style will play less the more safisticated the hitters get. AllTheHype November 27, 2018 He’s still very green as a pitcher, late start, still learning things. He’s almost like drafting a HS pitcher from a pitching experience standpoint…..and a 0.88 WHIP is pretty remarkable all considering. He could vault up the prospect rankings fast, if he improves his secondaries some. Miggidy Miggidy Mike December 1, 2018 I really like this kid, and I was very critical of drafting him. Felt like the Reds were trying to do the same old, draft a guy who hasn’t pitched much bc his arm is fresh and he won’t have TJ issues, like we did with Cingrani, Lorenzen, the kid from Virginia who I can’t even remembers name, he almost immediately needed TJ surgery… it is something that drove me crazy about their drafting for a while. Cingrani had one good year, then they went nuts on it like they struck the holy grail… they go away from it, draft Senzel, Trammel, Stephenson, Santillian, Greene, Downs, and many more great young prospects, then they seemed like they were going back to the same old same old. I was very pleased with this young man however. He is certainly a long ways away, and will need to improve his secondary pitches, a lot! But he is a very good athlete, and he seems to really get what the game is about which is something a lot of young kids don’t. I hope he improves and is capable of handling the heavy innings of full season ball. Nice work Doug! Loving these profiles!