The Los Angeles Dodgers parted with top prospects Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray at the MLB trade deadline in order to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals as part of a deal that better aligns with their World Series aspirations this season.
Ruiz made his MLB debut last season, and Gray had the chance to do so this past week, but neither prospect appeared primed to play a significant role. At best, Gray was going to remain in the starting rotation until Clayton Kershaw returns from the 10-day injured list, which could be next weekend.
So Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman traded from areas the organization has depth and talent at in order to acquire a future Hall of Famer and All-Star shortstop that could wind up being difference-makers in pursuit of repeating.
Now leaving the only organization he’s known in his young professional career, Gray took to social media to express his gratitude for the Dodgers and excitement in joining the Nationals.
Words can’t express how thankful I am for the opportunities the Dodgers have given me since joining the Organization.
With that being said, we all saw what happened after I was traded from Cincy to LA and I’m looking forward to taking the next step in my career. Let’s go D.C! pic.twitter.com/svtnOp1Rz9
— Josiah Gray (@JGrayy_) July 31, 2021
The Dodgers acquired Gray from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2018 as part of a salary-motivated trade for both teams. The Reds selected Gray in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
He played shortstop before converting to pitcher in the summer of 2017 while playing in the Cape Cod League. Gray went 11-0 as a junior at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and finished third in NCAA Division II with a 1.25 ERA.
The right-hander continued to improve as a hurler under the Dodgers’ ballyhooed player development program and now is expected to be part of the Nationals rotation for at least the remainder of this season.
Gray embraced growing pains
Although a starter by trade, Gray made his MLB debut by appearing out of the bullpen. His next time pitching for the Dodgers was in the form of a start, but in both instances he was hurt by the long ball.
The 23-year-old acknowledged a need to improve but did not get discouraged by the rocky beginning to his career.
“All the pitchers I’ve talked to with us about their transition from the Minors to the Majors, they talk about the hitters. They’re not going to swing at those pitches that Minor League hitters would swing at,” Gray said after his first start.
“Whether it’s borderline or foul balls, they’re going to foul your stuff off and strikeouts are going to be a little harder to get. And also when you make a mistake they’re going to punish it. As I’ve seen my last two outings when I make a mistake of not hitting the glove or throwing to where I should throw the ball, those get punished.
“Just learning from those and the guys I’ve talked to. Kind of just adapting to that transition and embracing it is part of the journey and something I look forward to as I continue on my Major League career.”
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