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Colorado Rockies need to solidify their plan with Jon Gray

David Martin Avatar
July 22, 2015


The Colorado Rockies are once again going nowhere fast. They were drilled on Tuesday night 9-0 as Kyle Kendrick was predictably crushed.

It’s reached the point where the results of the Rockies games aren’t about the score of the game, but more about what the young players are doing to improve themselves so that fans have a reason to be excited about next year.

Thinking about next year, the Rockies are in a position where they need their 2013 first round draft pick Jon Gray to be a key contributor to their 2016 starting rotation. With that in mind, all eyes are on the top prospect, who continues to toil in Triple-A Albuquerque.

Before the All-Star break, the rumblings for Gray to make his debut were growing louder. In fact, after a really good stretch in Triple-A, both Patrick Saunders and Nick Groke of the Denver Post individually wrote about Gray’s imminent promotion. They pointed to the Sunday game following the All-Star break as a perfect time to have Gray make his Major League debut. He wouldn’t be at Coors Field, where crazy things happen to baseballs, and he would instead be at a spacious park without an expectant crowd looking on.

Saunders and Groke made smoke with their pieces. It made it seem like there had to be something to the story. When Rockies.com beat writer Thomas Harding chimed in with a piece of his own, suggesting the exact same date, there was little doubt that it wasn’t speculation, but rather that people within the organization were suggesting it. All things looked good for the young righty, until he suffered a terrible outing in what would have been his final Triple-A start.

After the bad outing, the Rockies seemed to change their minds. They decided to go with Eddie Butler in the Sunday start, which ended up being washed out anyway.

The reports from the same guys who were suggesting the July 19th debut date were suddenly backtracking. Instead, they talked that Gray might not even see the big leagues at all in 2015. They were saying that the Rockies need to see more from the big right-handers secondary pitches before he could be in the big leagues.

For Rockies fans looking towards the future, the news is bleak. They are frustrated and want to see Gray gain big league experience so that he can be ready to lead the team in 2016. Instead, he will continue to toil in Triple-A in an effort to fine tune every last piece of his game.

The Rockies maintain that he will be called up when he is ready. That answer could be very dangerous for the prospect.

While adversity is part of being a great Major Leaguer, teams shouldn’t add more adversity in order to battle test their own guys. The Rockies need to help Gray get to the big league level in every way that they can possibly help.

The Rockies don’t need to lock themselves into a plan for Gray, but they need to be open with their thoughts. They need to make a promotion not completely reliant on every single start Gray has in Triple-A. If Gray starts to think that he has to be perfect in every single start, it might make him start to get too fine. Instead of pitching his game and getting better, he could easily start to overthink every inning and every pitch.

Baseball is a mental game as much as it is physical. The Rockies shouldn’t get in their own guy’s head.

If the club feels that Gray would benefit from a full season in Triple-A, there are very few people who would fault them for it. It would probably relieve plenty of pressure that Gray has to not mess up. It would allow him to be the best Triple-A pitcher he can be instead of trying to be a Major League pitcher making his last stop in his brief minor league career.

On the other side, if the Rockies would call Gray up and allow him to struggle at the big league level, but explain to him that the remainder of 2015 is about his growth and not about the results, it would allow him to learn and show that he belongs. It would be something that he could build on for the future.

The Rockies could go either way. They could have Gray wait the entire season or they could call him up immediately. Either way is fine and there are reasons for both thoughts. The one thing they shouldn’t do is wait for the results of each start to decide the next step.

In the real world, imagine being at work and knowing that a promotion was being talked about. It was probably going to happen, but no one would say when. It could be tomorrow, or it could be next year. It would become difficult to focus on the current task. It would be tough to continue doing things well in the current role that was required.

That is essentially what the Rockies are doing to Gray.

The Rockies season is over, so everyone wants to see what Gray can bring to the team. The Rockies don’t need to fulfill that wish, but they should lay out a solid plan instead of changing their minds every fifth day.

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