Peyton Gray was out celebrating his father’s birthday when he received a call that many young baseball pitchers dream about.
Gray, 23, who’s been setting himself up for this moment since his high school days at Columbus East, picked up the phone on Monday and on the other end was a Colorado Rockies representative looking to bring him on board.
“That was exciting,” Gray said. “I feel like it was a gift to (my dad). I feel like I made him proud. I wouldn’t be in this position without my family, all the support they’ve given me along the way.”
Two hours prior, Gray was contacted by a Rockies scout who informed him that he might be receiving a call later that day. He had very little time to gather himself once he got the call because he was flown out to Boise, Idaho, the next morning.
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Gray is pitching for the Rockies minor league Boise Hawks team in the short season Class A league. He didn’t even have time to participate in a single practice before dressing for his first game against the Hillsboro Hops on Wednesday. Gray touched down in Boise around 3 p.m. Tuesday and headed straight to the field to meet his new teammates and coaches before their 7:15 p.m. game.
Gray completed his physical Wednesday morning so he could suit up that night and Thursday. The Hawks plahy at Tri-City at 8:15 p.m. today in his fourth day as a professional.
“I worked my entire life for this opportunity, and now I get to take it and run with it,” Gray said. “I was a little nervous to see what it’s like, but now that I’m here, I’m just excited.”
Gray began his collegiate career at Western Michigan, but said making the transition to playing at Florida Gulf Coast helped set him for this moment. Gray played one year at Western Michigan before transferring to Gulf Coast State College in Florida for a year and finishing up his final two years with FGCU.
Gray went 6-5 with a 5.49 ERA in his two years at Florida Gulf Coast. He ended his senior year with a 6.75 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 29 innings.
“I definitely thought that prepared me for this opportunity because we were playing all those schools you always hear about,” Gray said of transferring. “It definitely prepared me for the pro style of play.”
East coach Jon Gratz remembers when Gray played shortstop for the Olympians and claimed Gray was always a tall kid who could throw hard. Gratz also attributed Gray’s success to the time he put in the weight room during his college years.
“He worked really hard to get to where he’s at now, and hopefully, he can keep playing for awhile, and we’ll kind of see how it goes,” Gratz said. “I’m really looking forward to following him and seeing how he does, and hopefully, he continues to progress at the rate he’s been progressing at.”
Gray will be pitching for the Hawks, but isn’t expected to be in the batting lineup. He isn’t taking anything for granted and understands the level of competition will be elevated in the minor leagues.
“They’re all professional baseball players,” he said. “They all get paid to play, and they all have the opportunity for a reason, so you can’t take anything easy. You have to prepare for them all the same.”
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Name: Peyton Gray
High school: Columbus East
Colleges: Western Michigan, Gulf Coast State, Florida Gulf Coast
Professional team: Boise Hawks (Colorado Rockies Class A affiliate)