Getting to Know Your Obscure Cubs: Jeff Gray
In my quest to fill out some pages at Wiklifield, I thought I'd take a deeper look at some lesser known guys in the organization that could make an impact.
The center piece as far as the Cubs were concerned when they moved Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the A's in December(the Cubs also received Ronny Morla and Matt Spencer). The 28-year old right-hander was drafted in 2004 by the Oakland A's in the 32nd round and saw a brief 4-inning cup of coffee in 2008 despite struggling in the minors with a 4.32 ERA. After the season, he reworked some issues with his mechanics in the AFL and enjoyed a more successful 2009 with a 1.54 ERA in Triple A over 41 innings with 16 saves and then a solid 3.76 ERA over 26.1 IP with the A's after being called up on four occasions. His strikeout rate dropped significantly in 2009, although he still maintained a fantastic K:BB ratio(4.75 in the majors, 3.76 in the minors) and keeps the ball in the park with a remarkable 0.36 HR/9 rate over his minor league career.
He claims to throw five pitches - a four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup and curveball - but says his sinker and slider are his bread-and-butter pitches.
He'll compete for one or two bullpen spots that will be open to competition this spring. Jim Hendry compared him to Angel Guzman when the Cubs acquired him in December. I assume that was a comparision to their pitching style and not injury histories as Gray seems to have stayed healthy so far through his career. If he doesn't make the club out of spring training, he does have one minor league option left.
After the jump, the bulk of his Wiklified entry.
Full Name: Jeffrey Michael Gray
Height: 6'3" Weight: 205 lbs
High School: (HS) Lafayette (Balwin, MO)
College: Missouri State University
Acquired: Via trade from Oakland Athletics with 1B/OF Matt Spencer and RHP Ronny Morla for OF/3B/1B Jake Fox and INF Aaron Miles in December, 2009.
Status: Still with organization and on the 40-man roster
Notes & News
Gray grew up in Missouri, a Cardinals fan of course, although he claimed to like the Astros as well.
He was drafted in 32nd round, 967 overall in 2004 amateur draft by Oakland Athletics. He was added to their 40-man roster before the 2008 season. After the 2008 season, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League for the second time in his career(the first in 2007) and reworked his mechanics to add some deception to his delivery, including lowering his arm slot. He also reworked his approach towards hitters, trying to focus more on pitching to contact. His strikeout rate did decline in 2009, but his walk rate and groundball rates went up, along with a better ERA. He was called up four times during the 2009 campaign with the A's, the first three he just pitched once before being sent back down and finally stuck on the roster after his final call-up in August.
Worked with A's bullpen coach Ron
Romanick to add some deception to his delivery after 2008 season, including lowering his arm slot which Gray credits with his improved 2009 season.
A "four-seamer (up to 96 mph), a sinker, a slider, a changeup and a curveball"
Honors & Awards
Has been a member of 2 AFL championship teams(2007 and 2008 Phoenix Desert Dogs) and 2 PCL championship teams(2007 and 2008 Sacramento RiverCats).