Jonathan Gray would like to introduce himself to you. Perhaps you may have heard of him. The #3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, the Colorado Rockies were thrilled to get the big righty. And by big, I mean BIG. A strapping 6'4" and 255lbs. packed on his frame scream "workhorse." They also scream innings eater. But let's give Gray some due. He is a lot more than just an innings eater. He is a lot more than a workhorse. He is everything an organization would want in an ace, and to make it even sweeter, everything you would want as your #1 ace-front-of-your-dynasty-rotation. Let's investigate the "Why?"
Gray has been under close watch since graduating high school. Drafted not once, not twice, but three times, by three different teams. Once by the Royals in 2010, once by the Yankees in 2011, and the final time by the Rockies in 2013, when he signed for $4.8 million dollars and became the best prospect in the organization the minute the ink dried. Additionally, all the prospect guru's seem to think pretty highly of Gray as well:
Keith Law: "The Oklahoma product's stock took a small hit when he tested positive for Adderall in MLB's predraft testing program, but after signing he made rapid improvement in the Rockies' system as Colorado made him throw the changeup more, to the point where it was flashing plus by the end of the summer."
BA: "Gray has three very good pitches, and the Rockies expect that all will be above-average offerings."
Fastball - A fastball that tops out at 102? Ummm, yea, that would be an 80, which make dynasty owners happy!
Slider - Another swing and miss offering Gray throws from 85-88 throwing a 70 grade on it from scouts. Sign me up!
Change - As Keith Law stated, flashes plus even though he barely started throwing it due to being able to overmatch hitters in college. Currently a 60 grade would make Gray everything you would want as your #1, even in a bad ballpark.
Here is where the excitement builds(and if you haven't noticed, yes I do have a mancrush on Gray!):
Very clean mechanics with not a lot of effort. Has an immensely strong, fully grown frame which allows him to generate a ton of velocity.
Command - Gets plus marks here, too. Has made huge strides in conditioning and cleaning up his mechanics to get to the 60 marker for command and delivery.
Gray has one of the highest floors even if his change never gets any better. The 95-102 fastball, along with the 85-88 mph wipeout slider are more than enough to make him the closest thing to a sure bet that exists currently in the pitching prospect world. At his peak, Gray could be the next generation Max Scherzer with more velocity. Grab him if you can!
As he signed early enough to give us a taste of what he has to offer, Gray didn't surprise with these stellar statistics:
If there is one red flag about Gray, it is the aforementioned Adderall snafu. Since you have to have a medical waiver for it in MLB, he will now have to be tested for it through his career. This is not exactly a huge worry, but more a red flag, character wise, when millions of dollars are on the line. Teams might have questioned his character and although he was drafted third overall, no one really knows if the Astros or Cubs would've taken him first or second, thus possibly costing him millions. But I digress.
ETA: September 2014 or sooner if Rockies are in a playoff race
Being as bullish on Gray as I am, along with the current school of thought that he has a very high floor, I am putting these comps on Gray:
Upside/Best Case Scenario: Tom Seaver. A workhorse who had great command within the strike zone. Yup, I just threw a HoF comp on a guy who has never thrown above A ball. Seems asinine until you realize that Gray has tree trunk legs, an Aroldis Chapman fastball, and the explosiveness and clean mechanics that make him just as likely as any other pitcher to have a injury-free career.
More Likely Scenario: The aforementioned Max Scherzer who can paint, throws a filthy slider, and has very clean mechanics.
Worst case scenario: Suffers a major shoulder injury and never reaches his full potential. Awful? Yes. But also possible.
All things being equal though, Gray's mechanics, ability to paint, and Aroldis Chapman fastball velo in a starters body make this dude one very hard to resist prospect. Grab him early, and watch him give you ace production for cheap for years. I know I am.