Gutierrez: Vandy RHP Gray an obvious choice for A's


Gutierrez: Vandy RHP Gray an obvious choice for A's

June 6, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA's PAGE A's VIDEOPaul Gutierrez

Sure, the A's had been linked with Connecticut outfielder George Springer in mock drafts, ranging from Baseball America to ESPN in recent weeks, days and hours. But Oakland's farm system has a relative lack of depth in pitching, what with so many of the A's pitching prospects already with the big club.So when Springer was drafted No. 11 overall by the Houston Astros and Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray was still there for the taking at No. 18, the choice was obvious.Gray, born 10 days after the A's finished their four-game sweep of the Giants in the 1989 World Series, became Oakland's first-round draft pick in the 2011 first-year player draft."We've gotten to know him personally for a number of years and he just has incredible gumption and fortitude," A's scouting director Eric Kubota said in a conference call with reporters. "He's one of those kids who isn't backing out of any situation. He's not afraid of anything.
"He's going to go out and do everything he can on any given day to get you out."Gray is 11-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 16 starts for the Commodores, whose season continues this weekend in a best-of-three Super Regional against Oregon State. Opponents are also hitting .192 against him in 107 23 innings and he has 115 strikeouts and 39 walks."He's a bulldog-type of guy who was a championship quarterback in high school and has played on the USA national team," said New York Mets scout and CSN Bay Area baseball analyst Shooty Babitt. "He's got a complete mix of 'stuff' with a power fastball. He's a competitor with a good arm who goes out and wins."The stigma is that he's a 5-11 righty."Meaning, many see him as being too short andor slight to be effective over the long term. Some observers, though, think he might remind A's fans of Tim Hudson and Huston Street. Others see him as a Roy Oswalt-type of hurler, what with a low-to-mid 90's fastball that can hit the high 90's on the radar gun. Plus, Baseball America named Gray as having the best secondary pitch in college ball.Coming out of high school in 2008, Gray was drafted in the 27th round by the Chicago Cubs. But he decided to attend and play for Vandy and his stock his risen accordingly.Entering this season, Gray was the fifth-ranked pitcher in college by Baseball America after being second-team all-SEC in 2010 in going 10-5 with a 3.48 ER in 19 outings, 16 starts. He led the Commodores with 113 strikeouts, 108 23 innings pitched and 48 walks as a sophomore. He was also a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2009 after going 5-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 22 appearances."Strength-wise, I think I attack hitters really well," said Gray, who acknowledged his primary concern is pitching for Vanderbilt this weekend rather than negotiating a contract. "I come and try to give you my best stuff and I think having that competitive sprit and that competitive mind serves you well on days you don't have your best stuff."Listed at 5-feet-11, 200 pounds, Gray said he was "6-feet" tall. When pressed, he laughed and said, "5-11-and-a-half."The last college pitcher the A's used a first-round pick on was James Simmons out of UC Riverside in 2007. Simmons is currently on double-A Midland's disabled list with right shoulder impingement syndrome.The A's have also made a habit of drafting college players in the first round. Since 1997, Oakland has drafted only one high school player in the first round - pitcher Jeremy Bonderman in 2001. Eric Chavez was a high school star when the A's selected him with their first pick in 1996.Oakland's last three first-round picks are ranked by Baseball America in their top five prospects - Jemile Weeks (No. 5), Grant Green (No. 1) and Michael Choice (No. 3) - while Cliff Pennington (2005 first-rounder) and Landon Powell (2004 first-rounder as compensation for losing Keith Foulke via free agency) are obviously with the big club. Alas, Oakland's farm system is ranked a lowly 28th among the 30 big league clubs.With just four picks in the first five rounds - Oakland surrendered its second-round pick to Tampa Bay as compensation for signing free-agent reliever Grant Balfour this offseason - the A's are tied for the fewest such picks in that span. Their next pick is in the third round, No. 105 overall, and again at No. 136 overall in the fourth. The A's will then select every 30 picks thereafter.

Adam Silver's view: If invited, Warriors should go to the White House

Adam Silver's view: If invited, Warriors should go to the White House

The Golden State Warriors are the reigning NBA champions.

As a result, one would assume they will be invited to the White House for a celebration with Donald Trump.

Just before last month's NBA Draft, Blazers guard C.J. McCollum sat down with Adam Silver and asked the Commissioner about a potential Warriors visit to our nation's capital.

"I definitely don't think it should be a league decision," Silver said in a video posted to The Players' Tribune. "I don't think we should be directing teams or players to go to the White House.

[REWIND: 'Woke' David West is going to fight the fight against Donald Trump]

"It's my view that if invited, our teams should go to the White House. Regardless of people's personal political views, I think that these instiutions are bigger than any individual politician; any individual elected official.

"And it concerns me that something like going to the White House after winning a championship -- something that's been a great tradition -- would become one that is partisan."

From a Monte Poole article on June 13:

"Steve Kerr made up his mind seven months ago, within hours, if not minutes, of Donald Trump being elected president. And some of his Warriors players were not far behind. Kerr told last November that if the Warriors were to win the NBA Finals, he would not accept an invitation to visit the White House.

"Those were Kerr’s feelings then, but he felt it would be presumptuous to express them publicly during the middle of a season. Now that the Warriors have the championship, taking out the Cavaliers in five games, don’t expect that to change."

But perhaps Kerr has changed his mind?

In a podcast with Tim Kawakami in late June, Kerr was singing a different tune:

"The biggest thing for me is it’s about the players. This is a visit that’s about the team. We have not met about it because we haven’t been invited.

"But I would want to make sure the players gave this really a lot of thought. Everybody knows I’ve been a very outspoken critic of Trump’s and as a result maybe we won’t get the invitation.

"I do think it is very important to consider a potential invitation because I think it could have really positive ramifications if we did go. And it’s a different way to look at it. I, like many of our players, am very offended by some of Trump’s words and actions.

"On the other hand, I do think there’s something to respecting the office, respecting our institutions, our government. And I think it can make a statement in a time where there is so much divide and everybody seems to be angry with each other."

Silver agrees with Kerr's view.

"I will say -- even though I think teams should make decisions as organizations, that I would also respect an individual player's decision not to go."

After winning the title in 2015, the Warriors accepted Barack Obama's invitation and visited the White House on Feb. 4, 2016.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller


49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

49ers defense: Top training camp competitions

Before starting six games as a rookie, Rashard Robinson had not played football since the 2014 season at LSU.

Yet, Robinson is the closest thing to a sure bet to win a starting job among 49ers cornerbacks.

Tramaine Brock was projected as the starting cornerback on the other side until his arrest on suspicion of a troubling domestic incident prompted the 49ers to release him more than three months ago.

The 49ers open training camp next week, and here are the top competitions for starting jobs on defense:

Keith Reaser has yet to make an NFL start while appearing in 28 games the past two seasons. The 49ers rotated cornerbacks with the first-team defense during the offseason program, and Reaser put himself in position to enter camp as the slight favorite to replace Brock.

Veterans Dontae Johnson and Will Davis will try to work their way into the picture. And the 49ers are hopeful talented rookie Ahkello Witherspoon will develop a willingness to play with more physicality. The 49ers selected Witherspoon in the third round. He has the size and all the tools to win the starting job, but there were times in college he showed an alarming lack of aggression as a tackler.

K'Waun Williams is healthy after missing last season due to an ankle injury and falling out of favor with the Cleveland Browns. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, one of the few holdovers from Chip Kelly’s staff, thinks highly of Williams after coaching him with the Browns. Hafley said he believes Williams can become one of the top covermen in the slot in the entire league.

Williams lined up with the first-team defense throughout the offseason program. His biggest competition could come from Will Redmond, whom the 49ers selected in the third round of the 2016 draft but did not play as a rookie due to a knee injury. Redmond has some rust to knock off, but he did not appear to show signs of the injury during the offseason program.

Arik Armstead is not the prototypical player at the “Leo” position. At 6 foot 7, Armstead does not have the low center of gravity that is typically associated with that position. But Armstead is certainly not lacking for athleticism.

The 49ers need a more consistent pass rush to assist their unproven cornerbacks, and this spot will be counted upon to provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Veteran Elvis Dumervil, who believes he has regained his explosion off the edge after being hampered with Achilles injury, was added last month to do what he does best. Dumervil, 33, enters the season with 99 career sacks.

Aaron Lynch is on notice as he enters his fourth NFL season. He moves from outside linebacker to defensive end in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme. Multiple competitions will be ongoing at this position, as the 49ers will look to determine the best fits for base downs, as well as passing situations.

The signing of free-agent Malcolm Smith raised a few eyebrows. It was just the offseason program, but Smith was as impressive as any player on the team during the non-padded practices. He is clearly comfortable in Robert Saleh’s scheme, which is based on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense.

The 49ers had Reuben Foster rated as their No. 3 prospect in the entire draft. They traded with the Seahawks to move up to select him at No. 31 overall. The 49ers seem thoroughly unconcerned with Foster’s shoulder. The club believes he will be medically cleared for the opening of training camp.

The 49ers might want to bring Foster along slowly, but it is clear they do not expect him to be a backup for very long.