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Ranking the Rockies: No. 26 Jon Gray had an interesting start to his major league career

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Jon Gray used 2015 to learn what it's like to pitch in the major leagues.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Since he was drafted third overall in the 2013 draft, Jon Gray has been a fixture atop Rockies prospect lists. He has been rated the Rockies' top prospect by the Purple Row community on every list we've compiled since he was drafted (a streak that is likely to continue during winter PuRPs balloting) and has been rated as a top 15 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com, among others. Because of all this, there was quite a bit of fanfare when Gray made his major league debut on Aug. 4. Arguably the best pitching prospect in Rockies history was finally here.

It was quite the mixed bag for Gray in his nine big league starts this year and it gave both supporters and detractors the ammunition they wanted. In his second start on Aug. 10, Gray allowed just one run on one hit in six innings of work against the eventual NL champion New York Mets. He is the ace we'd all been waiting for!

Or was he? Just a week and a half later, against those same Mets, Gray allowed seven runs on eight hits in just 1⅔ innings. Rockies ruin another one! Of course, the truth probably lies somewhere between "ace" and "ruined." We should find out a lot more on that front in 2016.

As far as 2015 goes, Gray's overall numbers were strange. So strange, in fact, that I really couldn't find another pitcher who had a similar start to his career (more on that later). In 40⅔ innings, Gray put up a pretty ugly 5.53 ERA and 120 ERA-. That's the bad news. The good news, on the other hand, were his peripherals. Gray struck out 8.85 batters per nine innings -- a number that falls in between aces Matt Harvey and Gerrit Cole among qualified pitchers -- and had a strong 3.63 FIP, 3.84 xFIP, and 3.88 SIERA, all of which are considered better predictors of future ERA than ERA itself.

Making the jump from Triple-A to the major leagues is a big step, and Gray knows it. Drew Creasman was able to catch up with him and asked what he felt was the biggest difference between the minor leagues and major leagues.

"I'd say it's taking the (game situation) out of the equation," Gray said. "If you do your scouting report, you know what they're good at and what they're not good at and you can find their cold zones and attack that, it's gonna make things a lot easier. It doesn't have to be the nastiest breaking ball ever, you know, as long as it's there in that spot."

According to manager Walt Weiss, Gray won't have any workload restrictions during the 2016 season. Expect to see him in the rotation to start the season as he'll look to build on what he learned this year.