Cubs Prospect Profile: Drew Gray

Cubs Prospect Profile: Drew Gray


by - Senior Writer -

Pitching, Pitching, who loves some pitching. Well, in the case of the Cubs and their farm system, you can only have a little pitching as they have invested a ton of resources in arms. After being one of the worst organizations when it came to developing young arms for what seemed like forever, the Cubs have changed their approach and have not only learned how to develop arms, but have a farm system loaded with talented arms ready to make an impact.

Credit GM Carter Hawkins for some of that the past two seasons, as he played a significant role in the Cleveland pitching when he was with the Guardians and is now bringing his knowledge to the Cubs system. While realistically, only two of those arms are seen as MLB-caliber arms next season, there are several young arms to keep tabs on throughout the minor league system, including the Cub's No. 15 prospect, Drew Gray.

Drafted in the third round of the 2021 MLB draft, the 6-3 left-hander was taken out of high school, where he pitched for IMG Academy. Gray was also teammates with fellow left-hander Jackson Ferris, who will be discussed later on the Cubs list. Scouts were still deciding whether they liked Gray more as a hitter or a pitcher before he blossomed on the mound while on the high school showcase circuit in 2020.

Once the top-rated player in Illinois, Gray enrolled at IMG as that would give him the best opportunity for baseball. Once viewed as a first or second-rounder, Gray struggled with his command at IMG, and thus, his stock took a significant hit. There were also rumors spreading that Gray was dealing with arm issues, but that didn't stop the Cubs from giving him an aggressive 900K signing bonus.

Gray then went out to dominate hitters in his two outings later that spring, where he walked one and struck out nine in just four innings of ACL play. Getting back to the arm issues for a minute and clearly, there was something wrong as he ended up blowing out his elbow in February 2022 and was forced to have Tommy John ending not only the 2022 season but part of 2023.

That isn't what anyone wants, especially a young player trying to develop as a pitcher, and you can see the effect it has had on him. Thrown back into the mix this season, Gray pitched in 14 games across Myrtle Beach and the ACL Cubs, with most of his time coming with the Pelicans. Despite his 0-3 record, Gray posted a 4.50 ERA, but only got stronger as the season went on, including his final outing of the season against Charleston, where he struck out five in three scoreless frames.

Command was still an issue at times for Gray this season as he had 29BB/56K, but with just a .186 opponent batting average, there is still tons to like about his game. Now, at the age of 20, Gray is no longer a teenager, and he is about to enter the part of his development where command is crucial.

Once a guy who sat around 90 MPH with his heater, Gray is now in the 91-95 MPH range, but has consistently been in the 92-93 range with the Cubs. Velocity is critical in today's game, but it isn't everything, as that 92 MPH plays up in the zone and looks a bit faster than it is. To counter his heater, Gray is one of those famous left-handed breaking balls, as his 76 MPH curve is a lethal pitch. Gray also has an 83 MPH slider that he is still perfecting along with an 86 MPH change that tends to fade away from a right handed hitter.

Given his 6-3 frame, Gray has the potential to add a few more ticks on that heater once he starts to fill out more as a pitcher. After gaining strength and rehabbing from his elbow reconstruction, his fastball, curveball, and slider all could become plus pitches, and you started to see some of that with his breaking stuff late in the year.

He doesn't put much effort into his delivery, though he needs to do a better job of keeping all of his moving parts in sync. His athleticism should help him as he looks to refine his changeup, mechanics, and command. Considering he will now be a full two years removed from his injury when the season starts, Gray is going to be counted on a ton this season as the Cubs hope to unlock his full potential.

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