2015 Albuquerque Isotopes Pitcher Of The Year: Jon Gray


Aug 21, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher J. Gray (55) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Mets at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As the Colorado Rockies’ affiliates end their seasons, we’re handing out player awards for 2015. Today, the Pitcher of the Year for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

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The Colorado Rockies called up Jon Gray to appear in the big leagues late in the year, of course, but his reputation preceded him in Denver as he spent time developing for much of 2015 with the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Gray, the Rockies’ 2013 first-round draft pick from the University of Oklahoma, did better than his numbers will indicate in the big leagues at the end of the year. But his best work (at least based on results) came for the ‘Topes during the first three-quarters of the season.

For that, Jon Gray wins our 2015 AAA Pitcher of the Year Award for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

[ Related: Albuquerque Isotopes 2015 Season in Review ]

The numbers to back it up:

Gray wasn’t as dominant in Albuquerque as he was in previous minor league stops, but there are a couple things to remember about his time with the ‘Topes: (a) he got there very quickly, even for a first-round draft pick, and (b) he was pitching in an extremely hitter-friendly environment. (If you don’t believe me, look at some of the other starters who were in the Topes’ rotation this year.)

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There’s a lot to like about Gray’s numbers. The strikeout-to-walk ratio, the strikeouts per inning, really everything except his hits allowed per nine innings is right on par with what you’d want from a prospect seeing AAA hitters for the first time in his life.

[ Related: Albuquerque Isotopes 2015 Most Improved: Angelys Nina ]

What 2016 looks like:

Well, this will be perhaps the question of the spring for the Colorado Rockies — and by extension, the Albuquerque Isotopes. Gray ought to start the year in Denver with the Colorado Rockies, and although he almost certainly won’t be an ace out of the gate for the club, he certainly has some high expectations placed upon him in what would be his first full year in the big leagues.

But that doesn’t mean that spending time with the Albuquerque Isotopes would make Gray a failure, either. Eddie Butler has been up and down after a particularly bad 2015, and while there are issues with Gray, he certainly isn’t done by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh, yeah, there’s Chad Bettis, too. Bettis had some brutal years yo-yoing between Denver and the AAA affiliates of yore, before seeming to finally figure it out in 2015; Gray may have slightly larger expectations placed upon him than did Butler and Bettis, but the recent histories of both of those pitchers also suggest that it might be a winding road to big league consistency for Gray, too.

[ Related: Albuquerque Isotopes 2015 Top Prospect: Trevor Story ]

Honorable mention: Aaron Laffey, Simon Castro, Nelson Gonzalez

Laffey ended up having a very nice season for the ‘Topes: 5-4, 3.90 ERA in 27 games (12 starts), though he allowed heavy base running traffic (103 hits and 42 walks in just 90 innings, for a 1.61 WHIP). He also appeared several times in the big leagues.

Castro had a very good year out of the ‘pen for Albuquerque before being called up to Denver. He threw 57 innings in 36 games, going 5-5 with a 3.79 ERA, and 74 strikeouts against just 20 walks.

Like Castro, Gonzalez had a good year out of the pen, though he was the only one of these three honorable mention candidates not to appear in the Major Leagues this year. In 30 games (51 innings) he struck out 51 while only allowing 17 walks, and finished 4-3 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.

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