Jon Gray has been experiencing tremendous success with their High-A affiliate..."/> Jon Gray has been experiencing tremendous success with their High-A affiliate..."/>

Jon Gray rock solid for Modesto Nuts


Jon Gray warms up in the bullpen prior to a start. (Jen Mac Ramos)

The Rockies’ 2013 first round pick Jon Gray has been experiencing tremendous success with their High-A affiliate, the Modesto Nuts.

In five starts, Gray has only allowed three runs — two of which were earned — while walking six to striking out 36. Only in his second month of pro ball, Gray has made the jump from impressing scouts as a college pitcher to one of the best young prospects around.

Gray said he didn’t know what the Rockies had in store for him as he entered the minor leagues.

He started his pro career with the rookie level Grand Junction Rockies, then was promoted to the Nuts after four starts.

“Just to know that I’ve moved up a couple of levels already is an accomplishment for me,” Gray said. “I’m just gonna keep working harder and see how high I can go this year.”

Gray’s fastball and slider was highly praised by scouts prior to the draft. Now, Gray is working on honing command for both pitches.

“What I’ve been working on lately is fastball command and trying to throw the fastball to both sides of the plate,” Gray said. “I’m getting better at pitching inside to guys. They’re not looking away every time and it’s just a lot harder to hit a fastball whenever you don’t know which side of the plate it’s gonna be on.”

As for his slider, Gray has had a better feel for it in Modesto than when he was in Grand Junction.

“When I was in Grand Junction, for some reason, I didn’t have a really good feel of it,” Gray said. ” But as soon as I got here, it seemed like it was working just fine. It still needs to get better. I think I need to throw it better for strikes, but it’s definitely been an out pitch. But overall, command of it needs to get better.”

He says his changeup is on its way to being a solid pitch, as well.

“It’s been kind of strange the way it’s been working, but it’s been taking steps up,” Gray said. “I’ve been able to use it in games and use it for swing and miss and to keep people off the faster pitches.”

Gray has also noticed the vast differences between college baseball and pro ball, despite it being the same game. From the bats to the age range of the players, he makes his adjustments as necessary.

“You’re having everyone’s best guy on these teams,” Gray said. “Everybody that has something they show that’s major league. Everybody can swing the bat, obviously. You’re throwing against wood bats. And it’s just that some of these guys are a lot older, too. It’s just a little different because you gotta figure out the new players. You gotta figure out how to pitch to certain guys.”

He acknowledges, as someone drafted by the Rockies, a pitcher’s fear of one day pitching at Coors Field, but it’s not something in his mind whilst in Modesto. However, he is glad to have been drafted by the team.

“It makes me so happy to know that I could be playing for the Rockies some day,” Gray said. ” All the fears of a pitcher playing for the Rockies… I mean, I’m not scared or intimidated by it right now. I mean, it could happen. It’s a great challenge.”