Sonny Douglas Gray (born November 7, 1989) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees.
Gray with the New York Yankees in 2017
|Cincinnati Reds – No. 54|
|Born: November 7, 1989|
|July 10, 2013, for the Oakland Athletics|
|MLB statistics |
(through May 15, 2019)
|Earned run average||3.69|
|Career highlights and awards|
Gray attended Vanderbilt University and played college baseball for the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Athletics selected Gray in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut in 2013, won the American League Pitcher of the Month Award twice in 2014, and was named an MLB All-Star in 2015. The Yankees acquired Gray in 2017, and traded him to the Reds before the 2019 season.
Gray was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to Cindy and Jesse Gray, and lived in Nashville until his family moved to Smyrna, Tennessee, before his eighth-grade year. His father died in a car accident during Gray's freshman year of high school, just as Gray started playing baseball for Smyrna High School.
Smyrna High School (2004–2008)Edit
As a freshman, he pitched and played left field and was named Freshman of the Year in District 9AAA. As a sophomore, he suffered injuries and saw limited action during the season. As a junior, he led his team to the 2007 State Tournament with an 11–2 win-loss record and a 0.95 earned run average (ERA). This earned him a nod for the AFLAC All-American High School Baseball Classic, and a nomination for National Player of the Year (which Tim Melville ultimately won). As a senior, he went 4–0 with a 0.79 ERA. However, he was injured in a district game in April 2008 that ended his season. He also excelled at the plate, batting over .500 his last two seasons at Smyrna, but instead opted to pitch in college.
In addition to his success on the mound, he also played quarterback for Smyrna's football team, guiding them to back-to-back 5A State titles in 2006 and 2007. He was voted Gatorade Player of the Year by The Tennessean in 2007 and 2008 for his overall athletic success.
Having already made a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt University before Smyrna's state tournament run, he was drafted in the 27th round by the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 MLB Draft. He did not sign with the team.
Vanderbilt University (2008–11)Edit
As a freshman for the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team, he began as a relief pitcher, earning four saves before moving to a starter's role late in the season. He posted a 4.30 ERA, which he would improve upon in the next two years. He was designated as the ace of Vanderbilt's pitching staff in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, he went 10–5 with a 3.48 ERA, and led the team in strikeouts (113). Gray's junior year was his most successful, as he went 12–4 with a 2.43 ERA and 132 strikeouts. He also helped Vanderbilt earn their first-ever College World Series berth, making it to the semifinals and losing to national runner-up Florida.
Gray was selected 18th overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2011 MLB Draft. He elected to forgo his senior year at Vanderbilt, and signed with Oakland for a $1.54 million signing bonus. After he signed, the Athletics assigned Gray to the Midland RockHounds of the Class AA Texas League. The next year, Gray began his season with Midland. There, he posted a 4.14 ERA before being promoted to the Sacramento River Cats of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, where he struggled in his only start.
On July 10, 2013, Gray was called up to replace Dan Straily, who had been optioned to Triple-A. He made his first major league appearance out of the bullpen, in relief of Jerry Blevins, against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. Gray pitched two innings, tallying three strikeouts and allowing a single hit. He allowed neither a run nor a walk. Gray made a second relief appearance nine days later against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim but was then sent back down to the minors.
Gray was recalled again by the Athletics on August 10, and made his first Major League start against Mark Buehrle and the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto. This was supposed to be just a spot start in Tommy Milone's place in the rotation after Milone's struggles and subsequent option down to Triple-A Sacramento. However, Gray would later become a fixture in the A's rotation as the fifth starter.
On September 22, Gray pitched and won the AL West Division-clinching game against the Minnesota Twins in an 11–7 A's victory. He finished the regular season, going 5–3 in 12 games (10 starts) with a 2.67 ERA, striking out 67 in 64 innings.
On October 5, Gray started Game 2 of the American League Division Series against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. In a no-decision effort, he pitched 8 scoreless innings before a 9th inning walk-off hit by Stephen Vogt resulted in a 1–0 Oakland win. In a surprise move, Gray was elected to start Game 5 over Bartolo Colón. Facing Justin Verlander, Gray pitched 5+ innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs, getting the loss in the 3–0 game.
Despite not having previously been on an Opening Day roster, Gray made his first career Opening Day start on March 31 against the Cleveland Indians. He started the season 4–1 with a 1.76 ERA, while also recording his first complete game shutout, and 37 strikeouts in 41.0 innings pitched over six starts in April. For his early success, he was named AL Pitcher of the Month for the first time in his career. He would later go on to win AL Pitcher of the Month for July, as well. On the final day of the regular season, Sonny clinched the Athletics' third consecutive playoff spot with a complete game win on the road against the Texas Rangers. The A's would go on to lose the 2014 AL Wild Card Game to the Kansas City Royals in extra innings.
Gray was tabbed for a second straight Opening Day start for the Oakland Athletics on April 6 against the Texas Rangers. He pitched eight innings and allowed only one hit, holding the Rangers hitless until the eighth inning. Gray continued his success through mid-July, as he held a 10–3 record and a 2.04 ERA at the All-Star Break. He was selected to his first All-Star Game. He did not appear in the All-Star Game because he had started for the Athletics on the Sunday before the game.
Gray failed to improve on his successful 2015 season, suffering multiple setbacks that twice landed him on the disabled list. He finished the season with a 5–11 record with a 5.69 ERA.
New York YankeesEdit
On July 31, 2017, the Oakland Athletics traded Gray to the New York Yankees in exchange for Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, and James Kaprielian. The Yankees would advance to the ALCS after overcoming a 2–0 series deficit against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. New York would go on to lose the ALCS in 7 games to the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.
Gray struggled with his starts throughout his tenure as a starter in 2018, eventually losing his rotation spot to newly acquired teammate Lance Lynn after giving up seven runs in 2 2⁄3 innings to the Baltimore Orioles on August 1. Although his road ERA was a respectable 3.62, his ERA at Yankee Stadium was inflated at 7.71 and his total record as a Yankee prior to his demotion to the bullpen was 12–15 and a 4.85 ERA.
On January 21, 2019, the Yankees traded Gray and Reiver Sanmartin to the Cincinnati Reds for Shed Long and a competitive balance draft pick in the 2019 MLB draft. Gray signed a three-year contract extension with the Reds prior to the trade. The Yankees then traded Long to the Seattle Mariners for Josh Stowers.
Gray and his wife Jessica were married on November 12, 2016. The couple have two sons.
- Lee, Jane (March 28, 2014). "Thanks to his dad, A's right-hander Sonny Gray was built for success". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- Steward, Carl (March 31, 2015). "Death of father focused A's Sonny Gray". The Mercury News. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- Albert Chen (May 9, 2014). "How Sonny Gray went from small-town star to Athletics ace". SI.com. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- Scott Miller (July 20, 2016). "David Price and Sonny Gray Building a Bromance That Transcends the Game". Bleacher Report. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- Christian Red (August 5, 2017). "The legend of Sonny Gray: From tragedy to triumph, understanding the character and drive of the new Yankees pitcher". NY Daily News. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- "A's Select RHP Sonny Gray in First Round of 2011 First-Year Player Draft". Oakland Athletics. Mlb.mlb.com. June 6, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- McClintock, Brandon (July 25, 2011). "Oakland A's Sign First-Round Draft Pick Sonny Gray". Bleacher Report. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- Traub, Todd (July 10, 2012). "Texas notes: Gray looks on bright side". MiLB.com. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- "Sonny Gray". Sports-Reference. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
- "A's select RHP Gray from Sacramento; option RHP Straily to Sacramento". Oakland A's Press Release. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
- Jarosh, Noah (August 10, 2013). "Athletics recall Sonny Gray to be part of rotation". SB Nation. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- McPherson, Sam (October 6, 2013). "Phenomenal Pitching Put Vogt in Position to Even ALDS". CBS Sacramento. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- McPherson, Sam (October 10, 2013). "A's Go Down Meekly in Game Five Again, Lose 3–0 to Tigers". CBS San Francisco. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Jaffe, Jay (July 14, 2015). "2015 MLB All-Star Game preview: Lineups, starting pitchers and more". SI.com. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- "Baseball Awards Voting for 2015". Baseball Reference. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
- Garcia, Mark (September 28, 2016). "Sonny Gray makes one-inning return in A's loss". The Mercury News. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
- Trezza, Joe (July 31, 2017). "Yankees get Gray from A's for 3 prospects". MLB.com. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
- Lee, Jane (February 17, 2015). "Sonny now a daddy: Gray loving fatherhood". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2016.