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Colorado Rockies prospect Jon Gray still has work to do

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A review of Gray's promising start on Monday, an overview of what scouts have seen this spring and an unreasonable request from a local columnist. Those things and more in today's Rockpile.

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Rockies pitching prospect Jon Gray made easy work of a Brewers lineup that featured mostly big leaguers on Monday, limiting it to a couple of singles in four innings.

Gray struck out two batters, picked off Carlos Gomez at first base, didn't issue a walk and made a lot of good hitters look foolish on multiple occasions. What does that mean? Perhaps Gray said it best himself while talking to Nick Groke of the Denver Post:

"I want everything to happen at the right time," Gray said. "I wouldn't like to be the guy who gets rushed up and does bad and gets sent down. I'm really close to being ready. And maybe these last couple outings can decide if I'm ready."

Gray has looked good more often than not this spring, but there are still concerns -- mostly command related -- with the 23-year-old right-hander. Like ex-Rockies fireballer Ubaldo Jimenez, Gray has the velocity (usually; more on that below) and stuff to get away with some lapses in command, but the big league environment in which he would pitch isn't all that forgiving to such lapses, especially if pitchers are unable to get the mental aspect under control.

Only time will tell if Gray can do that, but Rockies manager Walt Weiss has repeatedly praised the level of maturity shown by both Gray and fellow highly touted young pitcher Eddie Butler, so maybe that counts for something. Then again, so does ...

Baseball Prospectus | Spring Training Notebook: Cactus League
Scouts aren't sold on a top-of-the-rotation future for Gray, according to Jordan Gorosh, suggesting that the third-year pro still has some hurdles to overcome.

Gray needs to continue refining his change-up, which is approaching average now but could be better with more seasoning. If he can sit in the 94-97 mph range with his fastball rather than 92-95 like he has at other times this spring, it will only help with his secondary offerings, which still include a wipeout slider that the Rockies have forced Gray to limit using. The money quote from Gorosh:

"I'd lean toward the more conservative scouts sentiment, although there's nothing wrong with a quality No. 3 starter. The arsenal has taken a small step back, with the slider not quite as sharp as it was in college, and the fastball velocity backing up a tick. The changeup should help mitigate some of these concerns, but missing bats in Coors is paramount. Gray will go as far as his fastball command and consistency of the slider will take him."

Simply put, there's no need to rush a guy who still has work to do in order to meet his initial projection, rather than settling in as a potential No. 3 or 4 starter. However ...

Kiszla: Give Jon Gray the ball as starter in Rockies' home opener - The Denver Post
Gray should be in the rotation at the beginning of the season because, dammit, baseball is just like football and there needs to be instant gratification in addition to proving something to the fans and to the Rockies' star duo who can't stay on the field. Also, party deck joke.

Status unclear, De La Rosa's MRI reveals 'nothing bad' | rockies.com
Jorge De La Rosa passed his MRI, but he still has fewer than three Cactus League innings under his belt, and with fewer than three weeks until the Rockies' home opener, his goal of being ready for the regular season is in serious jeopardy.

De La Rosa was scheduled to pitch Wednesday, but the Rockies have -- for now, at least -- replaced him with Eddie Butler, and as Thomas Harding notes, the veteran southpaw isn't penciled in for a minor league game, either.

The State of Our Bullpen | Rockies Zingers Colorado Rockies Baseball
Our friend Sarah Ford (Hi, Sarah! Feel free to edit this out if you'd like!) has a solid breakdown of the Rockies' relief corps. Sarah reaches the same conclusion that most people who have analyzed the unit have come to: the bullpen simply won't be as bad as it was last year.