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Rockies, top Draft pick Gray agree to terms

Oklahoma righty, No. 3 overall selection, to begin at Grand Junction

DENVER -- Many analysts believe Rockies No. 1 Draft pick Jonathan Gray, a right-hander from the University of Oklahoma, could be on the fast track to the Majors. How fast isn't known, but Gray clearly wants to start on that road.

Gray visited Coors Field on Tuesday and announced he already has reached a signing-bonus agreement with the club. Terms were not disclosed, though the Denver Post reported the figure to be $4.8 million. The slot value assigned to the pick by Major League Baseball under the Collective Bargaining Agreement was $5,626,400.

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Gray, 21, whose fastball has been clocked by Rockies scouts at a top speed of 101 mph, will soon report to Rookie-level Grand Junction.

The Rockies made Gray the third overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft last Thursday. On Friday, he struck out nine and gave up two runs on five hits in Oklahoma's 2-0 loss to LSU in the NCAA Super Regional.

"It was pretty tough -- there were a lot of things going on at that time, but you've got to forget about it and just go out and play your game," Gray said at a news conference that included many family members and his agent, Jay Franklin.

The Rockies want Gray to begin the process of going from throwing once a week to throwing once every five days, with a throwing program in between. They'll see how he does at Grand Junction, but the possibility exists that he'll move to a higher level before summer's end.

Gray has thrown almost exclusively a fastball and slider in college, but he wants to add offspeed pitches to diversify his repertoire. Gray would not predict how quickly he will be in Denver, but he's looking forward to the challenge of pitching at altitude.

"I hear the ball flies here," Gray said. "It's not a pitcher-friendly ballpark, but that's something I'll learn to overcome. As I work through the system, I'll be able to do that."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.

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