The Oakland Athletics decided to add some more depth to their pitching rotation in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft as they added Vanderbilt ace Sonny Gray with the 18th overall pick. The A's have done a solid job developing young pitching but you can never have enough quality young pitching. Most folks seem to think Gray falls into this category but slipped a bit in the draft due to concerns about his durability. Gray stands 5'11 and in professional sports, if you're under six feet tall people are going to jump all over your durability, whatever the sport.
In looking over the video below, you can view an inning of work from Gray back in 2010 against UCLA. In his time at Vanderbilt, Gray has worked his way into the staff ace and is currently 11-3 with a 2.01 ERA on the season. Vanderbilt just advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round where they'll face the Oregon State Beavers. Gray threw six innings of shutout ball in Vanderbilt's tournament opening win over Belmont and will likely pitch on Friday against the Beavers.
John Sickels provided a quick breakdown of his top 40 draft-eligible prospects and had this to say about Gray:
Commodore ace stands just 5'11" but has arm strength: 90-96 MPH fastball and outstanding curve. Needs to sharpen changeup but should have the aptitude to do it. Great makeup. 11-3, 2.01 ERA, 115/39 K/BB in 108 innings.
Keith Law concurred with him on his makeup, but did seem to think durability could land him in the bullpen down the road:
Gray has terrific stuff and could have gone in the top 10. Because he's 5-foot-11 or maybe 6 feet tall, there are concerns about his durability, but his command and delivery became bigger concerns late this spring. The velocity is firm in the 92-96 mph range and his curveball is already a plus pitch. With Oakland's present starting rotation, the rich project to get richer, though Gray could end up in the bullpen down the line.
We'll be here for the next three days covering the 2011 MLB Draft. For more in-depth discussion about the Oakland A's head to Athletics Nation. For more general minor league and draft discussion, check out Minor League Ball and Baseball Nation.