By Skills

LOS ANGELES — Last winter’s salary swap between the Dodgers and Reds involved three former All-Stars, so the pair of included prospects going to the Dodgers pretty much was overlooked.

But Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs aren’t being overlooked any more, the latest evidence being Gray’s invitation to the recent MLB/MLB Players Association’s Rookie Career Development Program.

A former shortstop, Gray is a 6-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher who jumped from No. 18 in last year’s preseason rankings of Dodgers prospects by MLB Pipeline to No. 4 currently (Downs is No. 5), as well as No. 75 on the MLB Top 100.

“It’s an honor to be invited,” Gray said of the program, designed to ease the transition for fast-tracking prospects. “To be around so many great guys that I’ve played against and wanted to play against. To be here is an honor and testament to what I’ve done in the game and hope to do in the future.”

Here’s MLB Pipeline’s scouting report on Gray:

“Los Angeles cleared roster spots and salary when it traded Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati in December, and it also landed a pair of quality prospects in middle infielder Jeter Downs and Gray. The latter spent most of his first two seasons at NCAA Division II Le Moyne (N.Y.) as a shortstop before becoming a full-time pitcher in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2017. After he went 11-0 and ranked third in D-II with a 1.25 ERA last spring, he signed with the Reds for $772,500 as a supplemental second-round pick.

“Gray works with a 90-95 mph fastball that tops out at 97 with nice carry in the strike zone, generating velocity with a quick arm and maintaining it deep into games. His low-80s slider shows sharpness and signs of becoming a plus pitch, and he has recently added an effective curveball. He didn’t use his changeup much in college but made some progress with it in his pro debut and the Dodgers believe it could become a solid third offering.

“The athleticism that made Gray a shortstop also allows him to pound the strike zone with his fastball. If he can refine his secondary pitches and command, he could become a mid-rotation starter. If he winds up in the bullpen, he might sit in the mid-90s with his lively heater.”

Gray called the past year a “whirlwind.”

“Obviously, the trade for some high-caliber guys. Learning a new organization. I’m so new to professional ball already, then I’m in a new organization six months later,” he said. “But, I went to Spring Training with open eyes and I wanted to enjoy every moment I was in. The Dodgers, being such a great organization, made it a lot easier to transition.”

With a big league-caliber fastball and a developing arsenal of sliders, curves and changeups, Gray said his goal in 2020 is to have a better year than he had in ’19, when he pitched at three levels with a composite 11-2 record and 2.28 ERA.

And when he reaches the Major Leagues, the player he is most interested in facing is none other than Puig.

“Because I got traded for him,” Gray said. “He wouldn’t know who I am, but I already know who he is. I think it would be a great story.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for since 2001.

This content was originally published here.

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