Posted: 9:58 a.m. Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By Christian D'Andrea
Add another Vanderbilt alumni to the list of active major league players. Sonny Gray is coming to Oakland.
The second-year pro learned on Tuesday that he'd join the Athletics this week after being scratched from a scheduled start at AAA Sacramento. Gray had been dominant in his first extended look at AAA batters. He had gone 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 102.1 innings for the River Cats. His control has been on point during his meteoric rise through the minors - he's developed a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio in the typically hitter-friendly PCL this summer.
Those strong peripherals have made him tough to ignore. He'll join the Athletics as a reliever despite starting in all 16 of his appearances so far this season. That role may be a temporary one. Rumors have been swirling about a possible suspension for veteran Bartolo Colon due to his participation in the league's Biogenesis scandal. If Colon misses time due to this performance enhancing drug kerfuffle, then Gray looks to be the prime candidate to take his spot in the rotation.
Vanderbilt fans will remember Gray as the pitcher who helped lead this team to its first College World Series appearance. Gray was an All-American at Vandy, and his 12-4 junior season as the 'Dores Friday starter propelled this team through a dominant Regional and Super Regional run. His leadership helped the Diamond Dores stake their claim as one of the top four teams in the NCAA that season.
The dominating hurler was part of one of the biggest draft classes that any college baseball team has ever fielded. Gray was the 18th overall pick in the 2011 Draft, and he went before teammates like Grayson Garvin (59th), Jason Esposito (64th), Jack Armstrong (99th), and Aaron Westlake (106th). Now, he's beaten his classmates to the pros as well.
There's no word yet on when he'll will make his official debut, but it will likely come before the All-Star break. If the A's need hard-throwing relief out of the pen, expect Sonny Gray to join David Price, Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Flaherty, and Mike Minor in the fraternity of Commodore alumni in the big leagues.