June 6, 2011
Nashville, Tenn. -
Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray has been selected 18th overall by the Oakland Athletics in the Major League Baseball Draft Monday night.
Gray is the first Commodore to be drafted in the first round since Mike Minor in 2009 when the Braves took the lefty seventh overall. The Smyrna, Tenn. native becomes the seventh first round pick at Vanderbilt since Tim Corbin took over the program in 2003.
The 2011 season brought high expectations for Gray, as he received preseason All-American honors from multiple publications and national attention as one of the most promising draft-eligible prospects. Gray has responded with another outstanding season and enters Super Regional play with an 11-3 record in 16 starts and a 2.01 ERA. He has recorded the only three complete games on the Vanderbilt pitching staff this season, the most recent of which came in a 2-0 loss to Kentucky when he struck out nine Wildcat batters on 84 pitches. Gray earned the win and struck out seven in Vanderbilt's 7-2 win over South Carolina in the SEC Tournament and shut out Belmont after scattering three hits over six innings in the Commodores' first game of NCAA Regional play on Friday. The SEC coaches tabbed a second team All-SEC performer and All-Defensive for the second straight year.
As a sophomore, Gray stepped in as the No. 1 starter and caught the attention of the entire conference, notching a team-high 113 strikeouts and amassing a 10-5 record on his way to a second team All-SEC selection and an All-Defensive Team selection. He led the Commodores in innings pitched and finished the season with a 3.48 earned run average, nearly a run lower than his ERA as a freshman. Gray started the second game of Vanderbilt's Super Regional match-up with Florida State with his team facing elimination and allowed just two runs over seven innings in a 6-2 Vanderbilt victory. The right-hander followed up a stellar sophomore campaign with another strong summer for Team USA, becoming the third Commodore pitcher in the past five years to earn Summer League Player of the Year honors from Baseball America.
Gray stepped into a prominent role in the Vanderbilt bullpen right away as a freshman in 2009, throwing three scoreless innings in relief in the season opener against Stanford in his first collegiate appearance. He went on to lead the Commodores in saves that season and compile a 5-1 record in 58.2 innings pitched - the highest inning total on the pitching staff behind the three weekend starters - to earn a spot on Louisville Slugger's Freshman All-American team.
Gray moved into a starting role late in the season and struck out 11 South Carolina batters in a 5-4 Vanderbilt victory in the SEC Tournament, and followed up with a shutout of Indiana over eight innings in an elimination game in the NCAA Regional and returned for a relief appearance two days later in the final game of the tournament against Louisville.
This is the second time Gray has been selected in the draft after being a 27th round pick by the Chicago Cubs out of high school.