Sonny Gray seems to have a handle on the Texas League.
Gray allowed one hit over five shutout innings to earn his first professional win as Double-A Midland defeated San Antonio, 5-1, on Wednesday. He hasn't allowed a run over 16 1/3 innings.
The 18th overall pick by Oakland in June threw 37 of his 60 pitches for strikes, facing one over the minimum. He struggled in the second inning, walking Sawyer Carroll and surrendering a single to Vince Belnome with one out. But he induced a double play off the bat of Carlos Sosa to end the inning, something Gray called a "confidence builder."
Gray, who finished with three strikeouts, retired the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth, ending his night by fanning Sosa on five pitches.
"I had all three pitches working well," the Tennessee native said. "I was able to get a lot of quick outs with the fastball, was able to mix the breaking ball in when I needed to and even the change-up was really good."
After taking the loss in his only Arizona League start, the 21-year-old right-hander moved up to Double-A on Aug. 12. In four starts with Midland, the Vanderbilt product is holding Texas League batters to a .179 average. Gray tossed five innings in his last outing Aug. 26 against Corpus Christi, fanning a career-high six and not factoring into the decision.
"It's exciting," Gray said. "It's just something that a lot of people can't say that they've done and they never get this opportunity. It's really exciting."
Gray has one more start left in his season and is hoping to continue the progress he's made in transitioning from the college game to the pros.
"Getting more time on the mound is something that's important to me," he said. "Continuing to develop that change-up and pitching to wood bats, it's completely different throwing the ball, you can throw the ball inside more."
Jonathan Ortiz fanned three over two perfect innings of relief and Trey Barham allowed two hits in one frame. Jon Meloan allowed a run and struck out two in the ninth.
Mitch Canham was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two walks while Jeremy Barfield plated a pair of runs for the RockHounds.
Joe Wieland (7-1) took his first Texas League loss, giving up four runs on 10 hits over five innings.