Gray went to Le Moyne College, a Division II school in Syracuse, New York. It was the only school that offered him a scholarship.
He was a shortstop for Le Moyne when he was not on the mound.
As a junior, Josiah was 11-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 13 games for LeMoyne in 2018. Over 93 innings, Gray allowed 63 hits and 20 walks while striking out 105.
Josiah spent the summer of 2017 in the Cape Cod League. That is where he moved to the mound full-time.
"It was the best summer of my life," Gray said. "I emerged in the closer role, and that's really where scouts saw me against much better competition. I had somewhat of a chip on my shoulder as a guy from a small school."
Growing up in New York as a fan of Alex Rodriguez, Gray aspired to one day be a big league shortstop. But moving to the mound should help him reach the Majors.
"I wasn't bummed; it was something I came to grips with," Josiah said. "Shortstop is my first love, but there comes a point in time when I look in the mirror and say, 'I have a great opportunity to make it to the majors (as a pitcher), so just go with that.'" (Joe Dempsey - Reds Report - August, 2018)
His teammates call Josiah "Jo Jo."
June 2018: The Reds chose Gray in the Competitive Balance Round B with the 72nd overall selection.
He signed for $772,500, which was under the slot value of $837,700, via scout Lee Seras.
In 2019, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Gray as the 13th-best prospect in the Reds' organization.
The Dodgers acquired Josiah from the Reds, where he was 5th-best in the Dodgers farm system in the spring of 2020. And he moved up to #2 early in 2021, behind only Keibert Ruiz.
2019 season: The trade of Yasiel Puig et al to the Reds in December keeps paying dividends, with infielder Jeter Downs having a huge year, and Gray, a 2018 draftee from the D-II ranks, following suit on the mound. No. 18 on the Dodgers' preseason list, Gray pitched his way across three levels, from A to Double-A, and finished with a 2.28 ERA, .207 BAA and 10.2 K/9 rate (2.1 BB/9). He was also named the Dodgers MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year.
2020 Season: Josiah was part of the Dodgers' postseason taxi squad, working out and traveling with the team throughout its march to the 2020 World Series title. That included a 24-day stay in the team's "bubble" at a luxury hotel near Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
"It was a really enjoyable time, and winning it all as well just made it that much more meaningful," Gray said. "Two years ago I was at Division II Le Moyne College and here I am as part of the World Series-championship Dodgers. That experience is going to be with me always." (Bill Plunkett - BA - March, 2021)
Superstitions? " I would say the superstitions are pretty normal to the point where it’s just like wear the same cleats or wear my pants the same way, or same socks or undershirt. Things like that, nothing too extreme."
MLB debut (July 20, 2021): Gray, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect made his debut, giving the Dodgers some needed length in a bullpen game against the Giants. His line from the game won’t look that good on the scorecard, as he got dinged for three homers that resulted in four runs. But when somebody strikes out seven in just four innings of work, it’s definitely worth noting.
Sept 13, 2021: A group of young fans donning Nationals gear ran down the stairs in the stands to get as close as they could to the field as Josiah walked toward the visitors' dugout at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The right-hander stopped and signed autographs, passing the memorabilia back and forth through an opening in the netting until he had connected with the entire group.
The 23-year-old Gray was maybe 10 years older than some of the onlookers, but he already values the importance of paying it forward. He’s been on the receiving end of a gesture early in his pro career, and he wants to pass on the sentiment.
The connection began in Spring Training 2020. Gray, then a prospect in the Dodgers' organization, conducted an interview with Baseball America during which he shared that Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman is one of his favorite players. Over the years, Gray has admired and appreciated Stroman’s dominance, competitiveness, confidence and support of his teammates. A few hours after Baseball America tagged Stroman in a tweet for the article, Gray received a follow and a message from the All-Star right-hander: Reach out whenever. “I would say that quote tweet from Baseball America just kind of sparked things,” Gray said.
Since then, the two have also conversed over Instagram, exchanging words of encouragement and well wishes. But it wasn’t until late that summer at Citi Field—after Gray had been acquired by the Nationals—that Gray and Stroman had an opportunity to meet. When Gray checked his phone before an early September game, he saw a direct message from Stroman asking where he was.
“Come outside,” Stroman wrote.
“It was awesome,” Gray said. “You want to be, I guess, star struck, but he came across just as a normal dude, as everyone else is. That was really cool.” There was much to be shared: Gray had made nine Major League appearances at the time; Stroman had seven seasons on his resume. They talked baseball, mechanics and the headlining trade. Then the two New York natives chatted about the possibility of getting together to work out this offseason.
“I bounce things off of him, he bounces things off of me and we kind of just build a relationship that way,” Gray said. “Just baseball players being baseball players and getting to enjoy an offseason and working together and just learning, continuing to learn.”
The meeting was a standout moment for Gray just two months after making his big league debut, and it helped him appreciate the kind of impact he could have further into his playing days.
“I think it’s huge just because . . . New York kids, Black kids, it’s really important for other Black kids that are playing baseball, and kids in general that might be undersized or under-recruited like myself, to go out there and just have an example to be like, ‘All right, I can be like that guy if I go to a Division II or a Division III school and I can make it to the big leagues and fulfill my dreams,’” he said. “That’s the lens I’m thinking through.”
For every autograph he pens, photo he takes and conversation he has, Gray hopes he can make connections with young fans who will be inspired by the experience, as he was with Stroman.
“Pay it forward,” Gray said. “So when I’m five, six years down the road, I’m going to have some fans that want to meet me and talk shop and work with me. He’s paying it forward, and that was a pretty cool moment to talk with him, him take some time out of his day to say some kind words. It’s definitely going to be something I remember.” (J Camerato - MLB.com - Sept 13, 2021)
Sept 28, 2022: Gray added clothing line collaborator to his resume this year.
The right-hander was approached earlier in the season by apparel brand Leovici to develop a special collection together. It was a way for Gray, 24, to express his sense of fashion while also giving back to charity. The partnership, Gray said, “happened pretty organically.”
“I got on a call and talked about what my style is—sort of more laid-back than anything, sort of simple,” Gray said. “But I wanted it to fit well. I wanted to look nice and be comfortable. They did a great job with sending out samples, things like that. We collaborated on two different shirts and a hoodie.”
Working off his last name, the three pieces of clothing were titled “The Gray Collection.” They were designed in different hues of gray and launched in June.
“Not too flashy in terms of everyday wear,” Gray said. “But they can fit any sort of outfit depending on the look you’re going for. It’s everyday casual athleisure wear, and I think they did a great job with it.”
Gray’s apparel joined that of Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, who previously collaborated with Leovici on the “42 Collection” to honor Jackie Robinson, and Guardians third baseman Tyler Freeman, who recently completed the Derek Jeter-inspired “Freeman Collection.”
One of Leovici’s core ideologies is “do good,” donating the profits from the collaborations to a charity of the athlete’s choice. Gray selected the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.
“It was a way to give back to those kids for any area of need that they might have, whether it's equipment, travel expenses, coaching, umpires, stuff like that,” Gray said. “Having all the proceeds go to them is something I'm pretty proud about.”
Gray’s connection was deepened this month when he was named the official player ambassador to the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. It is a role he had expressed interest in when he was traded to Washington, and he follows in the footsteps of Josh Bell, Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond.
“It’s an honor,” Gray said. “Especially being in the big leagues for a little over a year now, for them to give me that name, it’s pretty awesome. I think there’s a lot of exciting things to come with that in the future. Being able to give back to the kids, however I can—whether it's baseball lessons, life lessons, just being a familiar face—I think it's going to be a really good opportunity.” (J Camerato - MLB.com - Sept 28, 2022)
July 10, 2023: Growing up in Mount Kisco, N.Y., there were not many pro baseball players from the area for left-hander Joe La Sorsa to look up to while he pursued his Major League career.
But as New Rochelle, N.Y., native Josiah Gray emerged as a standout right-hander at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, La Sorsa and other baseball hopefuls from Westchester County took notice.
“A lot of kids thought it was cool that a kid coming from New Rochelle was able to make it to the big leagues, especially out of a Division II school,” La Sorsa said. “Some of the kids that we trained with when we were in college [at St. John’s University in Queens] were playing with him, and all they kept talking about was how good this kid was and how he was going to get to the big leagues.
“Even when we were in college, everyone knew he was really good and he was going to be something special.”
Gray was selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2018 Draft. The following year, La Sorsa was picked by the Rays in the 18th round. This season, they became teammates on the Nationals. La Sorsa was claimed off waivers by Washington and called up to join the Nats bullpen last month.
“Pretty much ever since everyone from back home found out that I was going to the Nationals, everyone said, ‘You're going to be teammates with Josiah Gray!’” La Sorsa recounted.
In their hometowns, Gray and La Sorsa are about 25 miles away from each other. In the Nationals’ clubhouse, it is just a row of lockers.
“When you think of things in the grand scheme of the New York metropolitan area, yeah, there are some kids down in Long Island and kids in North Jersey, whatnot, but our little Westchester cult, we’ll call it, there’s really only about four or five of us,” La Sorsa said.
Just weeks after Gray became teammates with La Sorsa on the Nats, he also became linked to another Westchester County native. Gray and Mariners right-hander George Kirby from neighboring Rye, N.Y., were named to the 2023 All-Star Game. It is the first career selection for both of them. The significance has resonated with Gray.
“It means a lot,” Gray said. “I think if you’re from the Westchester area, the 914, there’s not many baseball players that come out of it. … So for us to have two All-Stars -- myself and Kirby -- it’s really cool. Hopefully, it inspires kids from New Rochelle, or wherever they want to come from, to reach for your dreams.” (J Camerato - MLB.com - July 10, 2023)
June 2018: The Reds chose Gray in the Competitive Balance Round B with the 72nd overall selection. He signed for $772,500, which was under the slot value of $837,700, via scout Lee Seras.
Dec 21, 2018: The Dodgers traded RF Yasiel Puig, LF Matt Kemp, LHP Alex Wood, C Kyle Farmer and cash to the Reds; acquiring RHP Homer Bailey, SS Jeter Downs and RHP Josiah Gray.
- July 30, 2021: The Nationals traded RHP Max Scherzer and SS Trea Turner to the Dodgers; acquiring RF Donovan Casey, RHP Gerardo Carrillo, RHP Josiah Gray and C Keibert Ruiz.
|Birth City:||New Rochelle, NY|
|Draft:||Reds #2 - CBB - 2018 - Out of Le Moyne College (NY)|
Gray has a 92-98 mph FASTBALL with running life away from lefties and in on righties that has a 60 grade because of the swing-and-miss life he gets with it up in the zone. He has a real good 84-87 mph SLIDER with more depth and horizontal movement; it flashes plus and is a 55 grade. He can routinely land it for strikes.
He mixes in a CURVEBALL and a 45 grade CHANGEUP with some drop and tailing action. And he pounds the strike zone with 55 grade control.
Hitters have difficulty catching up to Gray's fastball, which seems to explode at the plate with riding and rising life. He sharpened both of his breaking balls at the alternate training site, tightening up and adding some power to his slider while improving his feel for his curveball. His changeup is more of a work in progress because he didn't use it much in college, and it features some sink but gets too firm at times.
The athleticism that made Gray a shortstop translates well to pitching. He repeats his delivery well and shows the ability to harness his electric fastball and slider. He's one of the toughest competitors in the system, adding to a package that the Dodgers believe will produce a mid-rotation starter who'll arrive in the big leagues in the near future. (Spring 2021)
Josiah is a power pitcher with a strong, athletic physique. He overpowers hitters. He is highly intelligent and an elite competitor who thrives when the lights are brightest. Gray has the stuff and intangibles of a mid-rotation starter. If his changeup improves, he could be more. (Kyle Glaser - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
2022 Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 39% - 94.4 mph; Slider 29.3% - 86 mph; Curve 25% - 82.7 mph; Sinker 4.2% - 94.6 mph,
Josiah is slightly undersized at 6-foot-1, but his strong, athletic physique allows him to pound the strike zone and hold his stuff deep into games.
The athleticism that allowed Gray to play shortstop at the college level translates well to the mound. His delivery isn't the smoothest but he repeats it well, commands his fastball and is improving his ability to locate his secondary offerings. He is highly intelligent and an elite competitor. He's a potential No. 3 starter who should be able to help the Dodgers in the near future. (Spring 2020)
Josiah is still developing as a pitcher. He repeats his delivery, but it is not real smooth. And he still has some space to fill out. He throws strikes.
Gray is immensely athletic and has electric arm speed. If he can further refine his changeup, he has a chance to continue to develop as a starter. (Spring, 2019)
Josiah has very good command. He throws strikes and doesn't walk guys, attacking the zone.
“I always pride myself on not walking batters. No matter how many hits I give up, I dislike walking batters. My first thing is always attacking the batter and getting that first strike. There is a greater percentage of getting an out if you get that strike one on every batter you face. You always have to establish that strike one. It’s always been attacking batters and making them prove they can hit.” (June, 2018)
Gray will end up a two-pitch reliever or will develop his change and be a #3 or #4 starter.
2020 Spring Training: MLB Pipeline Scouting Report: “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.”
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 2019, when he pitched at three levels with a composite 11-2 record and 2.28 ERA. (Ken Gurnick - MLB.com - Jan. 13, 2020)
March 25, 2020: Gray has proven more advanced than expected in pro ball, reaching Double-A and winning the Dodgers Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. In 2019, he logged a 2.28 ERA, .207 opponent average, and 147 strikeouts in 130 innings at age 21.
He has an explosive 92-97 mph fastball, flashes a plus slider, mixes in a curveball and changeup and pounds the strike zone.
"When he reported to camp in 2019 and threw his first live BP, we knew we had a special athlete on our hands," Dodgers farm director Will Rhymes said. "His velocity was really high and his ability to repeat his mechanics was impressive. As we got to know JoJo, the way he competes really stood out."
- Gray talks about his grips:
Under the guidance of the Dodgers’ player development staff, with the latest and best baseball technology at their disposal, the two parties assessed how Gray gripped and executed his pitches. More importantly, they looked at how the young right-hander could get the most out of his highly promising arsenal.
“We tinkered with the grips on most of my pitches, just to try to maximize the movement and offer a little bit more comfortability in my hand,” said Gray, who features four average-or-better offerings in a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball, the latter of which he added to his repertoire this past spring.
The New Rochelle, N.Y., native demonstrated how he now grips each of his pitches:
Fastball. “I like to hold my four-seamer across the Rawlings logo. I keep my fingers nice and close, which is interesting because, in terms of spin efficiency, you’ll find guys get a lot more spin efficiency if they spread their fingers out more. But with me, I just keep them close, and my spin efficiency is still pretty high. Using that grip has helped me understand that.”
Slider. “When I got over here, we switched up the grip a little bit to just to get a little bit more break to the glove side. I keep my middle finger on the [outer] seam, hug it really tight, and put my thumb on the bottom of the ball. I don’t like to grab the seam that much because it makes me choke the ball, so I just keep it in the middle of the ball and have my index finger right alongside that. What’s unique about my slider is that I try to think curveball so I can emphasize that sort of over exaggeration so the ball will come off my fingers and have a good spin axis and fall right off the table.
“It was a process learning that about my slider and trying to optimize that. It took me a lot of bullpens, and I’m still trying to optimize it and make it the best it can be … I would say all of my pitches have improved, but definitely the slider has improved the most with the help of the player development staff over here.”
Curveball. “I base it off the label of the ball. I like to have my middle finger on the middle of the seam, kind of choking it so I create top spin when I release it, and my thumb is in the middle underneath the ball. I sort of just spike it at the top of the logo, and what I’m thinking is just try to keep the same arm slot as always so it can mirror my fastball.
“With emphasis on top spin, it will, more often than not, come out and fall off the same plane as my fastball. It’s helped me offer a different look. It looks like a fastball and helps me access the lower part of the zone as well. It gets me check swings to where I can then use my fastball up in the zone or throw my slider off it because it might look the same to a hitter.
“[The Dodgers] have continued to help me perfect it and make it more consistent, because when I throw it, and when I throw it in the zone, it’s going to be a good pitch.”
Changeup. “I base it off the Rawlings logo again. It’s a two-seam changeup … my middle finger is going to be right outside the seam; my ring finger is across the other seam; index finger is on the side of the ball to get that tumble that a good changeup will have; thumb is on the bottom of the ball; my pinky is on the side. I try to use my ring finger and my thumb as my dominant fingers to try to lower the spin direction, because most good changeups are lower in spin direction than a fastball. (Mike Rosenbaum - June 24, 2020)
2020 Season: Dodgers - Josiah Gray, RHP (No. 1/MLB No. 62)
The World Series champion Dodgers just keep cranking out talented prospects, and the next in line is Gray, whom they stole from the Reds (along with Jeter Downs) in a December 2018 deal that cleared roster space and salary by unloading Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer.
Gray began his college career at NCAA Division II Le Moyne (N.Y.) as a shortstop before blossoming into a 2018 supplemental second-rounder on the mound, where he now deals mid-90s fastballs and low-80s sliders.
- 2021 Season: Gray made his big league debut in 2021 for the Dodgers, and later was flipped as a major piece in the deal that landed Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in LA. It was far from easy for the 23-year-old, however, as he allowed 22 ER in 17.1 IP over a 4-start stretch in August/September.
He pitched to a much tidier 3.54 ERA over his other 10 games, however (53.1 IP), and obviously figures to be a big part of the Nationals rotation as they attempt to pick up the pieces from what’s turned into a reasonably thorough rebuild. (Wick Terrell@wickterrell Oct 18, 2021)
2022 Season final stats: 148.2 IP, 5.02 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 23.7% strikeout rate, 10.2% walk rate
Josiah Gray has been part of two major blockbuster trades in his career so far. He was first sent to the Dodgers from the Reds alongside Jeter Downs for Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer back in 2018. Then, the Dodgers sent him, Keibert Ruiz, Donovan Casey, and Gerardo Carrillo to the Nats as part of the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade.
So after seeing him in just 13 starts last year with less-than-impressive results, I was very curious to see what Gray could do in a full-time role with the Nats. The answer? Uhhh . . . still not great.
Stop me if you’ve heard this story before—a young pitcher possesses two killer breaking pitches but throws his fastball all the time and it gets destroyed.
Yup, that was Josiah Gray this year, with a 5.02 ERA.
Gray mainly went with three pitches in his repertoire—his fastball, his slider, and his curveball. (Ben Palmer - Oct. 15, 2022)
- 2023 Improvements: Gray added a cutter to his repertoire, and that looks like it might be his main fastball this season. Unfortunately, he is still throwing that 4-seam fastball that got him in trouble too often in previous seasons leading to the most home runs surrendered in that time frame. But with the cutter, maybe batters will be a little off-balance and Gray can get away with it. (April 1, 2023 by Stephen G. "Ghost" Mears)
- May 12-June 26, 2021: Gray was shut down from throwing for at least a week with a right shoulder impingement.