Athletics call up top prospect Sonny Gray, option Dan Straily to Triple-A

USA TODAY Sports

Oakland will give their top minor-league arm some time in the bullpen leading up to the All-Star break.

The Oakland Athletics purchased the contract of top pitching prospect Sonny Gray on Wednesday, optioning right-hander Dan Straily to Triple-A to make room on the roster, the team announced.

A starter by trade, the 23-year-old Gray will work out of the bullpen in his first stint with Oakland so the club can ease him into the big leagues. Straily won't be needed again in the rotation until July 23, so Gray could potentially stay up with the club until then.

Selected out of Vanderbilt in the first round (18th overall) of the 2011 Draft, Gray quickly made his way through the A's farm system. The 5'11 right-hander moved from Rookie ball to Double-A in the months after the draft, then made it all the way to Triple-A in the final days of the 2012 season.

While his numbers in his first full season weren't much to write home about -- 4.26 earned-run average and 5.9 strikeouts per nine in 152 innings -- scouts and evaluators were still high on Gray. Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 65 prospect in the game prior to the season, Gray has stepped up his game in his second go in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The right-hander owns a 2.81 ERA and much-improved 9.4 strikeouts per nine in 102⅓ innings over 16 starts thus far.

Despite his relatively short stature, Gray can bring the heat.The right-hander's fastball sits in the low 90s but hits 95 from time to time. He also boasts a sharp overhand curve that he throws in the low 80s. Gray does own a change-up, but he throws it so infrequently he is essentially a two-pitch pitcher.

Some believe his limited arsenal will eventually relegate him to full-time bullpen duty, but his success so far seems to indicate otherwise. Here's a video of Gray facing Khris Davis (the other one) in May:


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