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MLB 2011 Draft Prospect Profile: Sonny Gray, P, Vanderbilt


I feel like I've written the same thing so many times, here is another high profile power arm! Sonny Gray is not your typical top of the draft pitcher though. He has plenty of skeptics about his upside but have plenty who believe in his upside. Plus, he doesn't have your typical body size for a pitcher with his stuff.

Gray stands less than six feet tall which completely takes out the whole projectable thing and also brings his durability into question. Despite the size, he still can get his fastball up to the mid 90's although he doesn't have a whole lot of movement with it. Plus, his height limits his ability to get on a good downward plane. His secondary pitch is a very powerful curveball that gets into the low 80's with a very sharp break. It's easily a strikeout pitch and is one of the best curves in this draft. He also has a changeup that is lagging behind but has improved over the season. 

Delivery wise, he doesn't have a prototypical delivery but at the same time doesn't exactly scream injury problems. He does have an odd pronation of his arm late that may lead to some shoulder or elbow injuries down the road, but nothing is glaring. I do like that he uses good leg drive and stride length so that his velocity is sustainable and not from arm strength alone. 


Hard fastball, hard curve, competitive attitude. What does that make? Sounds like a closer or a small Bud Norris type pitcher. His floor is that of a set-up man with his hard stuff and strikeout ability. You could even probably pencil him as a closer for his floor as well. That's how good his fastball/curve combination is.


This is really where the debate gets hot on Gray. Is his ceiling a closer? Is his ceiling at front-line starter? The good thing is that whatever you think, he's going to be good at what he does. Sure, he's risky in that you don't know what he'll end up doing, but he's safe in that he is bound to be a major league pitcher. It really depends on if he can develop his changeup to be average or better. The more that pitch develops, the better his chances are at staying in a rotation and being a front-line starter. Many compare him to someone called Tim Lincecum, I guess that's a good ceiling right?

Will the Astros draft him? If so, where?

Short answer is no. It's unlikely he'll be available at number eleven, but with how interchangeable many of the college arms are this year, it's possible he could be available. Even if he is, I don't think Heck would be targeting him as much as the other pitchers because of his lack of projectability.

Where is he projected to go right now?

Keith Law has him at No. 7 to the Diamondbacks

Deep Leagues has him at No.3 to the Diamondbacks

Jonathan Mayo has him at No. 13 to the Mets

Perfect Game has him at No. 8 to the Indians

Baseball America has him at No. 15 to the Brewers

John Sickels has him at No. 8 to the Indians

Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)

After the jump.

Diamond Scape Scouting says:

Potential ++ FB/CB pairing w/long track record; big velo 1st - 9th; knows how to pitch; excellent presence; sub-6-ft. but well put together.

Keith Law says:

I'm more in the former camp than the latter although I admit to concerns based on how he's pitched this year. Gray will pitch at 91-94 as a starter now, but 92-96 in short stints, and his height means he doesn't get great downhill plane on it. The curveball is an out pitch, 79-84 with hard two-plane break. Gray has recently altered the grip on his changeup, giving it more split-like action and thus increasing the chances that it's the third weapon he'll need to remain a starter.

Pro Draft Central says:

Very Tim Lincecum-like in stature (6-0, 185 lbs) Gray is a beast on the mound. He throws a low 90s fastball, but is capable of cranking it up into the mid-90s. He complements his fastball with an above-average slider and a decent, improving change-up.