It seems like every time I bring up how excited I am about Jonathan Gray as a fantasy prospect, the first thing I hear in response is some variation of, “Yeah, but what about Coors Field?” It’s a fair question, to be certain. While the Coors Field effect has been lessened since the installation of the humidor, it is still a very hitter-friendly park. Part of the explanation for this is that the thin air in Denver decreases the spin on breaking balls, thus making them easier to square up as a hitter.
But let’s back up a bit and talk about Jonathan Gray first, shall we? I live in Oklahoma, and was lucky enough to see the No. 3-overall pick pitch more times than I could count when he was in college at the University of Oklahoma. First and foremost, Gray has one of the absolute best fastballs in the minors right now. He has huge velocity, sitting comfortably in the 95-97 mph range and dialing up triple-digits when he reaches back for a little more. The pitch has explosive late arm-side movement as well, making it incredibly difficult to barrel up for right-handed hitters. I have seen him crank it up all the way to 101 mph, and it isn’t unusual at all to see him unleash one in the upper-90s in the 9th inning. When scouts talk about an 80-grade pitch, this is what they’re talking about.