I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Tulsa Drillers starting pitcher Jon Gray. The native of Shawnee, Okla., and former University of Oklahoma hurler was the third overall pick by the Colorado Rockies in the 2013 draft.
This season, his first at the Double-A level, Gray has a 10-5 record with a 3.75 ERA (entering games of August 16). His 10 wins currently tie him for fourth in the Texas League and his 6-3 record earlier in the season earned him an All-Star nomination.
Talk about your All-Star nomination and experience there.
I didn’t expect it (nomination) to happen. I had had an up-and-down season so it came as a surprise. It was a great opportunity and a lot of fun. It was an amazing chance to hang out with so many talented players.
You mentioned the up-and-down season. How do you work to maintain consistency?
I focus on what I can do. Every start, I want to go out and make good pitches. My biggest struggle this year has been limiting my pitches each inning. I have innings where I am out there throwing 18 to 20 pitches and I have to cut down on those.
Where have you improved the most this season?
My changeup is a lot better, and I’ve really been working on my command.
What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed about pitching at the Double-A level?
It’s definitely a step up in competition all around. The biggest difference I see is that guys hit better. You have to have a plan of attack when you go out on the mound.
Finally, as an Oklahoma native, talk about what it’s like to pitch in your home state.
It’s been great and a little different. It’s really been a blessing. This is close to my home and it’s been nice to be able to pitch here.