Colorado Rockies Down On The Farm: Jon Gray


Mar 1, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher J. Gray poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies hard-tossing prospect is throwing well in Albuquerque over the past few weeks, after several weeks at the start of the year where he struggled.

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Our friend Thomas Harding over at has a wonderful piece up on Jon Gray and how he’s been able to conquer the mental game of pitching in Albuquerque the past few weeks.

After nearly making the big league club out of Spring Training, Gray hit the skids for the first few weeks in Albuquerque, leaving Rockies fans wondering if he was going to be a bust in the big leagues when he finally got to Denver.

But, slowly, surely, Gray has quietly put up very, very good numbers in AAA over the past month, rectifying his slow start and proving to the Rockies he’s the pitcher they thought he would be when they drafted him two years ago this week, telling Harding:

"“I’m trying to make sure of the pitch I was throwing before I threw it, that, ‘I’m going to execute that pitch, and this pitch is going to get the hitter out.’ I visualize it before I throw it. That way, there are no negative thoughts that can get in the way.”"

The mental side of the game is something the Rockies have had to publicly deal with quite a bit lately, whether it’s Drew Stubbs‘ mega-slump that eventually required a demotion to AAA Albuquerque, or Tyler Matzek’s complete overhaul and “break” from baseball-related activities to get his mind right.

Gray’s mental work didn’t seem quite as significant as Matzek’s, of course, though Gray’s development underscores just how important it is to have your mind right for baseball, no matter how hard you throw or how dominate your stuff might be relative to your competition.

Gray, to Harding:

"“When things are rolling and … three or four ground balls get through, or when you throw a good pitch and he hits one in the gap, before, it was, ‘Why? I made a good pitch, and he hit that? Does my ball look flat? Is my stuff easy to see?’ Once you get out of your own head, your ability can come out.”"

Obviously, Gray will struggle in Denver when he joins the big league club – that’s true of literally every pitcher in Rockies history, bar none. So the question becomes then not what happens if he struggles, but how he responds mentally – and then physically – to it when he struggles.

To wit, more from Gray to Harding:

"“I felt in control all the time, that I could throw any pitch in any count — power and finesse at the same time. Whether I was behind guys or ahead, I felt I was getting stronger as the game went on. That’s what makes pitching fun for me.”"

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He’s saying all the right things, isn’t he? Give him two more weeks in Albuquerque, perhaps another two or three starts.

If he keeps throwing the way he is now, and/or if Kyle Kendrick or someone else scuffles enough to warrant being removed from the rotation, I think it’s completely realistic to say mid-to-late-June is Jon Gray time in Denver.

Just like with his prospect counterpart and friend Eddie Butler, it’s quickly becoming time to let Jon Gray learn and develop on the job at the big league level. By late June, I can’t imagine the Rockies will be playing for too much else besides the future, anyways.