Prospect Roundup: The Rockies were lucky to get Jon Gray

Doug Pensinger

Colorado may have finally been the lucky ones in the draft as their 2013 first round pick is outperforming his peers. Article includes top performers for month of April and the best prospect videos of the week.

It's hard to believe the Major League draft is only a month away and yet a year ago the Rockies were waiting at the No. 3 spot to see which of the big three fell into their lap. Many experts, including Sports Illustrated's Dave Perkins, expected the Cubs and Astros to fight over the top two pitchers, leaving  third baseman Kris Bryant to end up with the Rockies.

Jonathan Gray may not be the most talented player available, but he could still go No. 1 overall. -Dave Perkins, SI.com

Instead, Houston quickly snatched up the veteran  college pitcher Mark Appel and the Cubs GM Theo Epstein became enamored with the power potential of Kris Bryant whom he selected second overall. At that point, many Rockies fans felt they had won the lottery when the Oklahoma pitcher Jon Gray became available at No. 3.

Flash forward a year and the Rockies are sitting pretty with fireballer Gray pitching well at Double-A Tulsa. Gray finished the month of April hot, allowing just one earned run in his final three starts. Meanwhile the Astros recently demoted Appel to extended spring training, citing a need to learn how to pitch every five days.

"Mark has pitched four years at Stanford and was very used to a seven-day routine. Even last year, in [Class A] Quad Cities, he pitched about every seven days." said Astros GM Jeff Luhnow to MiLB.com.

Appel is dealing with some setbacks this season, including an emergency appendectomy in January which caused him to miss most of spring training. The surgery and time off caused a dip in his velocity and the results were a 6.30 ERA in four starts for High-A Lancaster.

Jon Gray with a strikeout from April 28, 2014.

Meanwhile Kris Bryant has played well for the Cubs, reaching Double-A Tennessee where he's slugged five home runs while batting .313 in 25 games. Bryant is having a nice start to his minor league career and would have been a nice addition for the Rockies, except they picked up their own third baseman in the second round of the same draft. Ryan McMahon is three years younger and his power may be just as legit (McMahon has notched 20 home runs since being drafted while Bryant has produced 14).

Appel's surgery and velocity issues sound eerily similar to the problems Drew Pomeranz experienced a few years ago when the Rockies acquired him in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. The Rockies have experienced enough of their own snake-bit pitchers; including drafting Greg Reynolds No. 2 overall in 2006, who suffered through shoulder injuries and posted a career 7.47 ERA for the Rockies before he was ultimately traded, which prompted Russ Oates to throw up his hands and write this article for Purple Row: Greg Reynolds -- It's finally over.

After a dismal history of selecting pitchers on draft day, Colorado may have finally caught a lucky break by drafting Jon Gray. The righthander has incredible velocity paired with a wipeout slider and has pitched like a No. 1 overall draft pick since coming over to the Rockies. Ultimately, the Cubs and Astros could end up ruing the day they allowed Jonathan Gray to slide through their fingers.

Hottest players for the month of April

Hitters (filtered by OPS)

Name

Age

Tm

PA

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

SB

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS ▾

Ryan McMahon

19.5

ASH

97

19

23

5

0

9

21

15

26

1

0.291

0.396

0.696

1.092

Trevor Story

21.58

MOD

111

21

34

11

3

2

11

16

32

15

0.362

0.459

0.606

1.065

Wilfredo Rodriguez

20.42

ASH

52

4

18

4

0

1

3

7

5

1

0.400

0.481

0.556

1.037

Ben Paulsen

26.67

COL

97

17

30

7

4

5

18

6

23

0

0.330

0.371

0.659

1.030

Patrick Valaika

21.75

ASH

81

13

27

7

0

3

15

3

18

2

0.380

0.403

0.606

1.009

Sluggers (filtered by HR's)

Name

Age

Tm

PA

R

H

2B

3B

HR ▾

Ryan McMahon

19.5

ASH

97

19

23

5

0

9

David Dahl

20.17

ASH

99

13

26

4

1

5

Ben Paulsen

26.67

COL

97

17

30

7

4

5

Tim Wheeler

26.42

COL

103

13

27

8

2

4

Pitchers (filtered by ERA)

Name

Age

Tm

W

L

BF

IP

G

H

R

HR

BB

K

ERA ▴

Daniel Winkler

24.3

TUL

3

1

113

30.0

5

13

3

1

9

33

0.90

Johendi Jiminian

21.7

ASH

4

1

110

28.1

5

20

8

0

9

16

1.27

Tyler Anderson

24.5

TUL

2

1

98

25.0

5

18

11

1

7

18

2.16

Eddie Butler

23.3

TUL

1

2

127

31.1

5

25

10

1

7

25

2.87

Tyler Matzek

23.7

COL

1

1

111

26.2

5

16

9

2

13

31

3.04

Alex Balog

21.9

ASH

2

2

94

24.0

4

22

12

1

8

15

3.38

Jonathan Gray

22.6

TUL

2

2

95

23.2

5

21

10

2

4

25

3.80

Stats by MinorleagueCentral.com

Hottest prospect videos of the week

Ryan Casteel doubles to left.

Tim Wheeler with an opposite field home run.

Ben Paulsen hits his fifth home run of the season.

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