With one Cy Young Award winner on the injured list and another on administrative leave, the Dodgers need some pitching help. So the defending World Series champions will reach into what seems like an endless supply of Top 100 Prospects and promote right-hander Josiah Gray to face the Giants tonight.
In recent seasons, Los Angeles has graduated Top 100 Prospects Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Brusdar Graterol, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, Will Smith, Julio Urías and Alex Verdugo to the big leagues. All but Lux and Verdugo, who was part of the Mookie Betts trade with the Red Sox, played direct roles in its 2020 championship.
The next in line is Gray, who was better known as a shortstop at NCAA Division II Le Moyne (N.Y.) before heading to the Cape Cod League four summers ago. He became a full-time pitcher with the Chatham Anglers, then returned to school and went 11-0 and finished third in D-II with a 1.25 ERA as junior in 2018. The Reds signed him for $772,500 as a supplemental second-round pick but sent him and middle infielder Jeter Downs (another piece of the Betts deal) to the Dodgers in the ill-fated Matt Kemp/Yasiel Puig trade that December.
Gray immediately took off with his new organization, winning its Minor League pitcher of the year award in 2019 after going 11-2 with a 2.28 ERA, .207 opponent average and 147/31 K/BB in 130 innings while reaching Double-A in his first full pro season. While the Minor League season was cancelled in 2020, he did get development time at Los Angeles' alternate site and tightened up his breaking pitches while there.
After making his first Triple-A start in May, Gray missed two months with an impingement in his throwing shoulder. He returned earlier this month and has a 2.87 ERA, .145 opponent average and a 22/2 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings at that level.
The 23-year-old Gray, who ranks No. 42 on the Top 100, has a lot going for him: stuff, polish, athleticism and mound presence. He works with an explosive 92-97 mph fastball that gets on hitters quickly, a mid-80s slider that shows signs of becoming a plus pitch, an upper-70s curveball and a sinking changeup. He repeats his delivery with ease and pounds the strike zone despite the life on his offerings, and he's also one of toughest competitors in the system.
It's unclear exactly how the club will deploy Gray and how long his first stint in the Majors will list. But he's equipped to succeed and Los Angeles isn't afraid to let rookies take on as much responsibility as they can handle. Don't be surprised if he plays a prominent role as the Dodgers make another run deep into October.