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Gray continues to impress, callup could be imminent

DENVER -- The reports Rockies manager Walt Weiss is receiving on top pitching prospect Jon Gray are getting more pleasing with each start. Weiss said development and front-office personnel will make the decision, although the twinkle in his eye suggested he wants Gray's debut to happen sooner than later.

Pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday night, Gray held Las Vegas scoreless for six innings, struck out eight and gave up three hits and two walks in a 6-1 victory. In his last five starts, Gray has struck out 39 in 28 1/3 innings; he has a 2.87 ERA in his last 10 starts.

"My focus is here, day-to-day, but I get the reports and I hear from the people that are around him," Weiss said Wednesday. "The reports are good. He's gotten better and better.

"He's working on some things that we felt he needed to work on, and he's made a lot of progress. He's had a good month or more, and he's starting to make some noise."

As the Rockies struggle with pitching, the calls for Gray's debut are growing louder. While it's easy to fall in to the notion that he should have been here by now, it is just his second full pro season since being drafted third overall out of Oklahoma in June 2013. Rockies officials have expressed caution all year, saying Gray had to hit his development landmarks and would not be rushed. But the statistics suggest he is getting close.

Gray's next turn comes up Sunday, which is Albuquerque's final game before the Pacific Coast League All-Star break, when the Rockies are at home against the Braves. If the Rockies subscribe to the theory that it's better to have a debut on the road in a pitcher's park, a good time would be during the three-game series at San Diego after the All-Star break, July 17-19.

Gray (4-5, 4.58 ERA in 17 games, 16 starts) began his first Triple-A season slowly, but developed his secondary pitches and found his confidence after about a month.

"His strike-throwing, his strikeouts, just the ability to dominate -- we think he's that type of guy," Weiss said when asked about specific areas of growth. "There were some mechanical things that he's gotten ironed out that have improved his fastball command and the action on his slider. He's doing well."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page.
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