With their first pick in the 2011 MLB Draft the Oakland Athletics have selected right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray out of Vanderbilt University with the 18th overall pick. The A's once again decided not to go with a high school player with their first pick, a move that can definitely prove fruitful in the future.
At 5'11" 200 pounds Gray is a bit on the smaller size for a pitcher, but is an absolute bulldog on the mound and has the stuff to back it up. Gray had a 11-3 record for the Commodores this season with a 2.01 ERA and a 115/39 K/BB ratio in 16 starts. He was projected a bit higher than 18th, and could definitely be a bit of a steal for the A's if he produces. Here's a bit from his scouting report from MLB.com:
most teams will look past the standard "undersized righty" bias because of his very good raw stuff. Gray will throw his fastball up to 94 mph with some pretty good run and sink to it. His breaking ball -- a slider that looks kind of like a hard, power curve -- gets swings and misses and can be a strikeout pitch in the future. His changeup is a touch behind, but still has good fade and is a very good third option.
The question will be whether or not Gray can blossom as a starter or if he would be more suited for a eventual reliever role with Oakland. Gray can have questionable command from time to time with a bit of a different delivery, which could keep him from making it into a rotation; especially with the young, dominant rotation the A's have and hopefully will have for a while.