The Colorado Rockies selected University of Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Thursday.
Why the Rockies took him: This was a situation of best player available meets organizational need, making it a no-brainer for the Rockies front office. The team lacks a frontline guy and feels it drafted an ace here.
Why you should be excited: On his best day, Gray is unhittable. He can touch triple digits, but sits more around 94 to 98 miles per hour with late life. His devastating slider was unfair in Big 12 play, and that pitch can also reach 91 mph. Gray also possess a promising change, but could get by on just two pitches at OU. At 6'4 and 230 pounds, Gray has a workhorse build, but was surprisingly efficient in college and can throw complete games in fewer than 120 pitches.
Why you should be worried: Yes, Gray failed a pre-draft drug test, and risks a suspension should he fail again. Additionally, Gray's velocity came out of nowhere, and it remains to be seen if he can reach plus-plus velocity every fifth day as opposed to once a week. Coming into the season, Gray was a frustrating prospect that possessed tools but put himself in jams and couldn't always recover from tough innings.
What needs to happen for Gray to reach the majors: Gray's probably a year and a half away from sticking in a big league rotation, but he must prove that his stuff will carry over to a shorter rest schedule. That will be the difference between ace potential and No. 2 starter. Obviously, he will also need to stay clean and avoid suspension, with more scrutiny and testing to follow in the minors.
Realistic best case scenario: Gray easily becomes the most talented pitcher in the organization, and would likely be a No. 1 guy long term. He may not ever reach Cy Young status thanks to Coors, but Gray can be a high strikeout ace with the durability to throw 230 innings a year.
Final word: Gray will draw arguably the second highest draft bonus, and may force the Rockies to go cheaper in the remaining rounds, but fans can dream on Gray's ace potential.