When Josiah Gray took the mound in his final college season at Le Moyne, he felt like he was on an unbeatable roll. And the results generally backed up that feeling, as he went 11-0 in 13 outings. A year removed and 2,600 miles from central New York, Gray said
When Josiah Gray took the mound in his final college season at Le Moyne, he felt like he was on an unbeatable roll. And the results generally backed up that feeling, as he went 11-0 in 13 outings. A year removed and 2,600 miles from central New York, Gray said that feeling has re-emerged as he pitches in the California League.
The Dodgers' No. 17 prospect took a no-hit bid into the seventh and ended up allowing a hit and a walk over seven innings as the Quakes beat San Jose, 4-0, on Friday at LoanMart Field. Gray struck out seven in his second scoreless start since joining the club in early May.
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Gray (7-0) has not been beaten the 17 times he's taken the ball this season and has lost only twice since he was drafted 72nd overall by the Reds last year.
"I'm on a winning streak right now and I want to keep it going," he said. "I'm not really focusing on that, I'm really focusing on getting three outs and sitting back down and competing for as many innings as possible. At the end of the day, that's the name of the game, and I want to keep doing that and keep us in the win column."
Through three starts in July, the right-hander has been one of the Cal League's most dominant arms, allowing one earned run over 20 2/3 innings while striking out 20 and walking four. While he retired two batters in his first start for the Quakes on May 11, Gray has lasted at least five innings in every subsequent outing and hasn't yielded more than three runs any time out.
The New York native was traded to the Dodgers last December in the seven-player deal involving Yasiel Puig. Gray said the transition to a new organization happened quicker than he anticipated, but that wasn't going to change how he was going to pitch and carry himself on the mound. The results haven't changed much either with his new organization; in fact, they might have only gotten better.
Since coming to the Dodgers, he's 8-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 90 2/3 innings between Class A Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga. He said he's taken advantage of the wealth of information the team posseses, which has made it easier to understand how his three-pitch repertoire can best be utilitzed.
"I'm blessed to come to an organization like the Dodgers that are open-minded to everything -- they just have so many resources at their hand," Gray said. "I'm able to benefit from those resources and learn more about myself as a pitcher. That gives me much more confidence on the mound, knowing the way that my stuff is going to play and the way I can set up hitters.
"Something I tell myself is I'm not my best pitcher yet or I'm not the best version of myself yet, in terms of pitching. That keeps me humble and adds fuel to the fire because I know the sky is the limit for me on the mound."
After a 1-2-3 first, the right-hander allowed his first baserunner to start the second when he walked Courtney Hawkins. But Gray kept himself in line to face the minimum when he induced a double play from Dalton Combs and struck out Sandro Fabian on four pitches.
From pitch one, Gray said he felt in command and that he had plenty of confidence deploying his 60-grade fastball, which made it that much easier to work in his off-speed offerings. He hadn't faced San Jose before Friday, so there wasn't anything specific he had in mind to work against the Giants other than offering a healthy mix of all of his pitches.
"With command, I felt like I was throwing all of my pitches," Gray said. "As the game progressed, I had that walk in the second inning, whenever it was, beyond that I was like, 'All right, I can control the fastball in the zone and throw the off-speed for a strike and just keep to the game plan and make them make outs for me.'"
After the walk, the 2018 second-round pick settled in and set down the next 15 Giants, with only three balls leaving the infield. Other than the free pass, Gray fell into three three-ball counts and kept his pitch count at 71 heading into the seventh.
Logan Baldwin led off with a single to right field to break up the no-hitter. Unfazed, Gray retired the next three batters and lowered his ERA to 2.14, which would rank third in the league if he had enough innings to qualify.
"My first start here wasn't the greatest, I didn't make it out of the first inning," Gray said. "What I came away with after that game was it's all the same, whether you're in the California League or the Midwest League. I kinda had to rap my mind around that. Of course, this league is more hitter-friendly, but at the end of the day, it's the same game every day at the ballpark. Being able to understand that was the biggest adjustment for me."
Wes Helsabeck worked around a hit in the eighth and Max Gamboa struck out one in a 1-2-3 ninth to wrap up Rancho Cucamonga's sixth shutout of the season.
The Quakes got on the board in the second when Niko Hulsizer stole home. Jeren Kendall added an RBI single and Brayan Morales came through with a run-scoring triple in a two-run fourth.
Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.