The Oakland Athletics selected Vanderbilt pitcher Sonny Gray with their 1st round pick on Monday during the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The No.18 overall pick in the draft, Gray, 21, is a talented right-hander from Vanderbilt with a bright future. The A’s opted to go with a pitcher this year, after selecting a hitter with their first-round pick the last three years.
The 5-foot-11 righty has the skills necessary to overcome his smaller frame, and the A’s are hoping that Gray’s success on the collegiate level will transfer over to his professional career. Gray recently finished up his Junior year with the Vanderbilt Commodores, going 11-2 with a 2.06 ERA in 16 starts this year. He struck out 115 and walked 39. He also compiled a 1.04 WHIP, while holding opposing hitters to a .192 batting average this season.
Gray is described as a pitcher who pitches aggressively in early counts, and is also described as having a power fastball that clocks in at 92-95 mph range. He also has a solid curveball and developing change-up included in his arsenal.
Gray’s smaller frame has drawn some skepticism about his future as a starter, but the A’s are confident in Gray’s abilities. Some people seem to think Gray could arrive in Oakland a lot sooner as a reliever in the bullpen, but for right now, Oakland will likely give Gray a shot at starting in the minors.
The last few years the A’s have gone after talented hitters in the draft, as a way to address their lack of offense. Oakland’s farm-system, however, is in need of some quality arms now. And this year’s draft is seemingly stacked with plenty of pitching prospects, so the decision to go with Gray in the first-round was a nice choice for the A’s.
For more on Gray and the A’s Draft Central, you can click here.