Gray with the Oakland Athletics in 2015
|Oakland Athletics – No. 54|
November 7, 1989 |
|July 10, 2013, for the Oakland Athletics|
(through 2016 season)
|Earned run average||3.42|
|Career highlights and awards|
He was a first-round draft pick by the Athletics in 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.
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)
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)
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, after being drafted, was optioned to the Athletics' Double-A affiliate. The next year, Gray again began his season at Double-A. There, he posted a 4.14 ERA before being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento RiverCats, 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 did not allow 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 has since 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.
Sonny was tabbed for a second straight Opening Day start for the Oakland Athletics on April 6 against the Texas Rangers. He pitched 8 innings and allowed only 1 hit, holding the Rangers hitless until the 8th 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. As a result, he was selected to his first All-Star 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.
On January 27, 2015, Gray and his girlfriend, Jessica Forkum, had a son, Gunnar Carmack Gray. The couple married on November 12, 2016.
- "Thanks to his dad, A's right-hander Sonny Gray was built for success". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- "Death of father focused A's Sonny Gray". March 27, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- Albert Chen (May 9, 2014). "How Sonny Gray went from small-town star to Athletics ace". Retrieved February 28, 2016.
- "A's Select RHP Sonny Gray in First Round of 2011 First-Year Player Draft | oaklandathletics.com: Official Info". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- "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". Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Phenomenal Pitching Put Vogt in Position to Even ALDS". CBS Sacramento. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- "A's Go Down Meekly in Game Five Again, Lose 3–0 to Tigers". CBS San Francisco. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- "Baseball Awards Voting for 2015". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray enjoys fatherhood". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 28, 2016.